Photos by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.43
Bowling Green Ballpark 300 E 8th Ave Bowling Green, KY 42101
Year Opened: 2009 Capacity: 5,700
Things are Getting Better in Bowling Green
Bowling Green Ballpark has been home to the Bowling Green Hot Rods of the Midwest League since the 2009 season. The 4,559-seat stadium was designed by architectural firm DLR Group and it features a concave right-center field wall due to the road behind the stadium and an embedded 6 by 68-foot LED display board in the left field wall. The price tag on the stadium was $28 million when completed in 2009.
Bowling Green’s population is near 67,000 and is probably best known for being the home to Western Kentucky University and the manufacturing home of the Chevrolet Corvette, with the Corvette Museum located in town. The city is somewhat new to minor league baseball and there is not a rich history that you might find in other cities, although the town was home to the Bowling Green Barons from 1939-1942.
The Hot Rods ended the 67-year drought with the completion of ballpark construction in 2009, and looking at its front entrance there is a nod to baseball past with retro paintings of step by step instructions on how to swing a bat in pink and black colors. The ball club is the Single-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays.
Food & Beverage 4
There is a lot to choose from at the ballpark during a game and it consists of all the staples plus much more. Ballpark Favorite include Fritos chili pie, honey fried chicken sandwich, chicken or beef nacho salad, deep fried corn on the cob, Philly steak sandwich, and chicken caesar wrap. Healthier choices include grilled turkey and pork chop sandwiches and a veggie burger that is topped with grilled vegetables.
The grill down the third base side offers gluttony of punishment for your arteries that includes the Bootlegger Burger – a beef patty between two Moon Pies. There are also burgers topped with homemade bacon jam and a full-sized souvenir batting helmet filled with nachos.
A few feet away is a bar that offers both domestic and craft beer for $5 a pint, a remarkable price at any level of baseball. The price also includes tall boy national brands in cans, along with 16-ounce drafts of Yuengling Lager and Pilsner, Blue Moon, and locally-made Blue Holler Goin’ Yard Pilsner. Cocktails and Moonaritas sell for $6 and $8 respectively.
Bowling Green Ballpark went through $2 million in renovations prior to the 2019 baseball season that has improved many aspects of the park for people of all ages. The ballpark now features a full wraparound concourse that allows patrons to view the game from multiple vantage points and allows them to utilize the facility during the day for walking and jogging.
The most recognizable feature is the close to $800,000 high-definition video board that stands at 35 feet tall by 56 feet wide, almost triple the size of the old video board and with a video quality will put it on par with other ballparks in baseball. The 1,500 square foot Splash Zone also includes two new adjacent restrooms and two changing rooms behind the batter’s eye in center field. The 10-foot-tall baseball bat water fountain allows fans to cool off during the hot summer months and provides a new way to beat the heat at the baseball game.
The ballpark features an impressive kids area down the right field line that includes a covered playground, carousel, and radar pitch machine. The official team store is called The Body Shop and has a vast collection of team merchandise plus $60 game worn jerseys. Axle and Rascoe are the club’s official mascots and can be seen throwing out shirts, waving flags on the dugouts, signing autographs, and posing for photos throughout the concourse.
The facility also features an outdoor patio set suite down the left field line, tier-lawn seating, and table tops on the concourse to enjoy food and drink while watching the game. The press box itself is not directly behind home plate but pushed down the third base side; this gives fans in the Reinhart Club seating a panoramic view of the diamond.
Bowling Green Ballpark is situated in a college town, but it’s much more than that. The downtown square is within walking distance of the stadium and offers a few nice bars and restaurants that are busy on the weekend nights. 440 Main Restaurant and Bar offers fine dining minutes away from the home field of the Hot Rods. The Mellow Mushroom is a nice option for pizza and beers before or after the game and so is the White Squirrel Brewery. Both are located within a mile from the stadium.
Directly outside of the ballpark area are two great places to grab a drink before or after the game. The first is 3-6-4 Sports Bar & Grill that includes build-your-own-burgers, pizza, sliders, and chicken wings. A few feet away is Mariah’s that offers a menu of mahi tacos, hot brown sandwiches, brick-oven pizza, pasta, and steak.
Lost River Pizza Company and Double Dogs, two inexpensive eateries, are approved by locals. A little further up the road on I-65 is Mammoth Cave National Park, featuring numerous underground tours that will fascinate and keep you cool during the hot summer months. There is an adventure to be had when you take a two-hour cave tour and squeeze through narrow passages and tunnels. It is one of the great national parks of the United States.
The fans are rather quiet but supportive of the Hot Rods. They are like many other Single-A fans who do their best to support their club at home. The night that we were there was Bark at the Park Night and it felt that there could have been more promotions going on at the stadium since this type of night brings out many a dog lover to the stadium.
Bowling Green Ballpark is located within a few miles of I-65 and there is free parking in the various lots on streets near the facility. Once inside, the small and cozy conditions make for a rather accessible stadium. There is even signage directing motorists to the ballpark, something that is not always common in smaller sized cities. The average fan should have no problems being able to watch the game away from the seat while waiting in line for food.
Return on Investment 4
The cost of a general admission ticket in advance or on game day is $8, a very reasonable price for minor league ball. Box seats are $8 and premium box seats are $10 in advance but spike up to $4 each on game day. Club seating is $20 in advance and provides fans access to the recently renovated Reinhart Club up above the concourse behind home plate. A full-service bar, wait-staff, and custom menu items give the fan an upgrade ballpark experience for a few dollars more.
Parking is free in the main lot across the street and on the street, the price of a draft beer is $5 (including both domestic and locally crafted varieties) and from Tuesday to Wednesday evening, certain food and drink prices fall from anywhere from one to two dollars each. For example, on Whacky Wednesdays carnival rides and radar pitching stands are free and certain menu items are only $2.
Bowling Green Ballpark earns a point for free parking at every game and earns a second point for providing a 16-ounce pint of beer for $5, not too many ballparks or bars offer that price for locally brewed beer. The ballpark earns another point for the recent improvements that include a 360-degree concourse that allows walkers to utilize the stadium during the day. The final point is for providing mid-week promotions to attract fans to the game that includes sales on merchandise on Monday, dogs at the ballpark for free on Tuesdays, and Whacky Wednesdays pricing.
Bowling Green Ballpark is a very modern and comfortable place to watch Single-A baseball. The recent renovations to the stadium and the value for your dollar makes it an affordable destination for fans in the area. It also makes for an ideal visit when in the area, or on your way to a couple of ballpark heavyweights in Louisville or Nashville.