Whitaker Bank Ballpark opened in 2001 and returned minor league baseball back to Lexington. The 6,994-seat stadium is similar to other Double-A and Single-A stadiums of the era and its dimensions are definitely cozy for both the ardent and non-traditional baseball fan. Inside, fans can enjoy baseball from box, lawn and bleacher seats, along with group seating in the Pepsi Party Deck and Budweiser Stable. The stadium also features 785 club seats and 24 luxury suites. The ballpark is one of a handful of facilities that feature two video boards. There is a lot of bang for your buck when you attend a Legends game.
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There are a few unusual items at Whitaker Bank Ballpark and a foodie should take notice. The first one is the bourbon bacon nachos that come in at a hefty price of $9.75. They are delicious and unique compared to other minor league cuisine. The hot brown dog weighs in at a nice price of $5.50. It is hybrid of a hot dog and the famous Louisville-invented hot brown sandwich with bacon, turkey, and Bearnaise sauce.
If you want more local food there is the Cincinnati-based Gold Star Chili, Hunt Brother Pizza, Kettle Korn, and Wagon Bone Barbecue to choose from. The prices are fair, and the barbecue and mac and cheese are quite scrumptious. Kentucky Ale and West 6th Ave beers are served throughout the concourse and most of them cost only a buck on Thursday nights.
The best food option is the Kentucky Ale Taproom, located smack in the back of home plate. The taproom features dinner service, spacious views of the game and a nice section of outdoor seating. While other ballparks charge you to sit in such a designated area, the Legends welcome you here at no extra charge. The menu is different from the rest of the concession stands and Kentucky Ale products are served on tap from their signature Bourbon Barrel Ale to their latest IPA.
The Legends have found their niche in the minor league baseball universe with their signature mustache logo it adopted off their mascot's face. The logo is featured on field caps, t-shirts, baby bibs and countless other merchandise. It is a solid brand for the team and has become one of the hottest symbols across the country. It is said that almost all 50 states have at least someone ordering the signature ball cap online.
Besides the usual ballpark seating, the Legends feature a few different options for group and single ticket options. The Pepsi Party Deck in right field and The Stables behind the first base line are designed for groups of twenty or more and offer all-you-can-eat picnic food options for up to 2-hours during the game. These two areas incorporate the horse racing structure aesthetics and offer plenty of leg room. There are also two areas of lawn seating and a section of bleachers behind the left field wall that are a bargain for the single ticket buyer.
Big L and Pee Wee are two mascots that can be found throughout the stadium giving out free hugs, entertaining the children and cheering on the Legends. The club also features Thirsty Thursdays, 37-Cent Hot Dog Night, Bark in the Park, Fireworks, and Kids Eat Free Nights throughout the spring and summer months.
Here is the odd part of the stadium, it is in a somewhat bland area of town that is off the beaten path - a very unusual departure from 21st century minor league stadiums. The ballpark is literally in a strip mall that is anchored by a Family Value store and a small, but frowzy looking apartment complex that sits adjacent on the other side of the parking lot. Not that one needs to be worried, there have been worse neighborhoods that ballparks are in, but there is a not a chance of grabbing dinner or drinks before or after the ballgame here in Lexington. At least not within easy walking distance.
However, there are many great dinner locations you can get to by car including Red State BBQ up the road on I-75, Bourbon n' Toulouse for inexpensive, but great Cajun food, Goodfellas Pizza, for the best pizza west of New York City, and Ramsey's that have multiple locations throughout the city. If you are out with the friends and need a drink, the area offers a few modern craft breweries including West Sixth, Country Boy, and Blue Stallion Brewery. They all offer up their own type of beers that are as different as they are complex from one another.
There is a dedicated group of individuals who frequent Legends games. They add to the pleasant atmosphere at the stadium and are very loyal. Sure, there are a few out here for the dollar beers or fireworks, but after talking to a few folks, the feeling is that baseball means a lot to them and so does this ballpark. They have the mustache logo to get behind along with the easy convenience of a minor league ballpark in their backyard. I would just make sure that the food is hot, the lines are short, and the drinks are on tap.
There is plenty of parking for the game in the stadium's lot and it will only cost you $5. However, it is adjacent to a small strip mall and there are options to park there for similar pricing when available. You could also find parking on the streets in order to save a few bucks. The stadium is a few miles from I-75, but North Broadway is suitable enough to get you to the ballpark. The traffic in Lexington can get congested at times, so give yourself a little time getting to and out of the game.
The Legends offer seven different price points for individual game tickets that provide the fan a myriad of options. The highest priced tickets are the Diamond Club seats for $24, while the lowest priced seats are the bleachers ($6) and lawn seats ($5). If you are looking for something somewhere in the middle, then your best bets are the box seats ($10) and field level seats ($12). I personally always look for the least inexpensive options, but that is me, and I can be somewhat parsimonious at the ballpark. However, the Legends ticket options are fantastic and give anyone who enters the game the right option to pick their seats.
There is a lot of effort placed on entertainment at the stadium and rightfully so - this is minor league baseball. The Legends programs and pocket schedules are eye-popping and elicit a genuine zeal that so many other franchises miss the mark on. The mustache theme logo has become more than just a symbol, but an X on a treasure map that will lure fans from around the country to the game. Lexington is a fantastic town to visit without baseball, but it is more enjoyable with a trip to Whitaker Bank Ballpark.
For over a decade, the Lexington Legends have been providing minor-league baseball entertainment to the Central Kentucky region. Over the years, the Legends and Whitaker Bank Ballpark have seen famous manager tirades, famous pitchers like Roger Clemens, and one South Atlantic League Championship, which came after the Legends inaugural season in 2001.
From 2001 to 2010, Lexington's minor-league ballpark was known as Applebee's Park. Today, the ballpark is known as Whitaker Bank Ballpark, a nod to yet another great Lexington business. It is located on the north side of Lexington in the middle of an industrial corridor. It can be accessed from I-64 from the Broadway exit.
Whitaker Bank Ballpark has a lot of distinctive and unique features that keep fans coming through the turnstiles. Behind home plate is a restaurant sponsored by Maker's Mark that is open to guests with special passes. Down the first base line is the “Budweiser Pavilion” which allows guests to enjoy a cold beer while having a nice view of the game as well. Down the third base line, guests will find a wide variety of entertainment options for young Legends fans. The most notable of these options is a carousel which comes with a great view of the game as well. Lastly, guests can rest on the “Pepsi Party Deck” which is behind right field. Once more, this area provides guests with great entertainment with a great view of the game at the same time.
Whitaker Bank Park in my eyes goes from one extreme to another with what they have to offer. I can see somebody fall in love with this place or I can see them hate this place, wishing they never invested a dime into the park. To me, I liked it all right, but to me there were a lot of issues that frustrated me.
FOOD & BEVERAGE: The variety is large, especially with having a Cincinnati Chili stand (Lexington is not too far away from Cincy). There are a lot of "Kentucky-themed" eats & drinks (bourbon). That was the good news. The bad news was it is nothing to really write home about in taste. I ordered a Bourbon Street Sammie (meatball sandwich with bourbon sauce; meatballs had cheese & bacon filled in it) and while the sauce was good, the rest of it was bland. They offered kettle corn which I am not a fan of, but ate some. The highlight was fresh squeezed lemonade, which was very good.
ATMOSPHERE: This place screams "Kentucky" with everything it has to offer. Since Lexington only has the Wildcats and it was well after basketball season & well before football season, they made sure you had a great Minor League experience, but they also had the structure itself make you feel like you were near the Kentucky Derby with structures of a stable & the "home run porch" in right field that looked like the structure of the derby.
NEIGHBORHOOD: The area around the place, is not desireable at all. Coin laundromat, which looked to be very ugly and a dollar store, which is also not appealing, are the only things around besides what felt like were run-down houses. There is nothing in the area you could grab anything as you would probably need to go downtown or hit the Lexington suburbs if you want some food.
FANS: It was a Saturday, so it explained why it was jam packed, but the fans were into the game from first pitch until the last out. They were friendly as can be on top of it.
ACCESS: It isn't entirely hard to get to as you hit the main road off of I-75, but then you have to wait on traffic light after traffic light, one lane roads, take unusual turns, etc. When you finally get there, it is a complete mess as the road itself isn't a wide road (only two lanes on both sides), which creates massive traffic issues. You get in the "main" parking lot, which is incredibly cramped and a mess in its own right, especially for a large crowd. To add on top, they charge you $5 to get in. Then getting out is a whole different nightmare. Don't try to park in the parking lot at the dollar store/laundromat. Cops were out there, making sure you didn't get "free parking."
ROI: While the stadium and the experience (save for parking and the neighborhood) was great, prices were in my eyes, a little too much for Single-A ball. The sammie was $9 and prices for the other food ranged anywhere from $4-7 (not BAD, but more than other places in the Minors). Prices for souvenirs were about what you expect, but maybe a dollar or two higher as well. Last, tickets for general admission were fine, but the rest was slightly more expensive than what you would get at other single A ball parks.
EXTRAS: As I mentioned before, you definitely felt like you were in Kentucky with the structure and you had murals of what Kentucky was famous for on the exterior (bourbon making, horse racing, etc.), which was great. The employees were friendly and you had an usher who would talk sports when he was able to and also dance whenever the Legends had a rally. There were "retired numbers" of a lot of the Legends players who made it to the Majors up along the wall, thus trying to show the recent success the Legends had in their short time of being in Lexington. Also, they were really gung-ho on the idea of now being affiliated with the Royals with new changes with the colors and logos, including the whole "fear the stache" bit.
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