Photos by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.43
Kentucky Proud Park 510 Wildcat Court Lexington, KY 40506
Year Opened: 2019
The Pride and Joy of Kentucky Baseball
When the Kentucky Wildcats baseball team took the field on February 26, 2019, they did it at Kentucky Proud Park. The program’s $49 million state-of-the-art ballpark replaced the venerable Cliff Hagan Stadium that was the team’s home for 50 years and ushered in a new area of the school’s baseball program.
KPB offers seating for 2,500 spectators and can accommodate up to 5,000 fans with additional space on the terrace and grass berms. Temporary bleachers can be installed beyond the outfield walls to increase the stadium’s capacity to 7,000 for tournament games. The ballpark is also home to the eighth largest video boards in college baseball, measuring 48 feet wide by 30 feet tall.
The modern and sleek design of the ballpark adds to the impressive resume of the SEC and makes it a viable option to enjoy the game in a grand atmosphere against nearby rivals in Louisville and division foes from Vanderbilt, Georgia, Georgia, and Tennessee.
Food & Beverage 3
There are two main concession stands down each baseline that offers a variety of common ballpark fare. The classics are here from hot dogs, burgers, pretzels, popcorn, and nachos, and range in price from $3 to $5. There are also sweet delights that include funnel cakes, cotton candy, frozen lemonade, Sno Kones, and Dippin Dots also in that price range.
Kentucky Proud Park could easily be a Single-A stadium and one of the most impressive venues of its kind in the region. A wide-open concourse wraps around the diamond and offers a club, large areas, a kid’s play area, and grass berm seating. A large video board offers everything from player stats to replays and social networking.
The seats behind home plate are wide and comfortable and general admission terrace seating is somewhat wide enough to seat a small family in certain sections. Kids play catch and run around the grassy areas down the left field line.
The stadium provides an interactive screen that provides a wealth of data that fans can touch the screen to find out more details on, including info on players, former players who made the majors, stadium information, and much more.
The Cats have in-between inning contests that include horse racing that is determined by fan tweets, lucky winners, and contests for kids. Home games feature at-time promotions that include free t-shirts, trading cards, beach towels, and TV raffles. This also includes Bark at the Park and May the Fourth Be With You Nights.
There isn’t much within walking distance from the stadium, but Lexington has a metro population of 517,000 residents. The city has a small-town feel and offers an array of nightlife, attractions, and plenty of distilleries and horse racing. There is a lot to see in town and within a small distance.
The city is home to two horse racing tracks: Keeneland (thoroughbred) and Red Mile (harness) which offer racing throughout the calendar year. Kentucky Horse Park is a working horse farm and an educational theme park that offers attractions and is a great place for kids and racing aficionados.
The area is in the heart of the Bourbon Trail. Nearby distilleries include Buffalo Trace, Four Roses, Wild Turkey, Woodford Reserve, and Lexington Brewing & Distilling (located in town and also features a brewery). Castle & Key is the newest distillery that took residence in the old limestone castle built in 1887. Tours and prices will vary and all include a sample of bourbon on picturesque grounds.
Downtown Lexington offers a collection of great restaurants and breweries that include Dudley’s on Short, Bourbon on Rye, Blue Door Smokehouse, Minglewood, and Creaux. Local breweries include Mirror Twin, Country Boy, Ethereal, and West Sixth.
A personal favorite place to visit is the Historic Pepper Distillery District, a 25-acre entertainment complex that is less than 4 miles away from the stadium. Originally built in 1869 to produce bourbon, it is home to the James E. Pepper Distillery, Ethereal Brewing, Barrel House Distilling, The Elkhorn Tavern, Crank & Boom Ice Cream, and Wise Bird Cider Co. It is quite a popular place to visit in town.
There is also the chance that your visit may coincide with a Kentucky Wildcats basketball game at Rupp Arena or a Lexington Counter Clocks baseball game at Wild Health Ballpark. When you include your visit with horse racing, bourbon tours, great restaurants, and other sports, you have enough to do on a very long weekend.
The ballpark feels like a High or Low-A ballpark and there are times it feels like that. However, the fan's reaction is on par with a major league club. The spectators are decked in blue, focus on. the game, and cheer at appropriate times. With the Wildcats winning and the weather warm, expect the fandom to be inviting and thriving.
The ballpark features a large main entrance, plus a left field entrance for the parking lot in the rear of the stadium. The large concourse wraps around the entire field and is spacious with concessions, bathrooms, and other signage marked. The ballpark shares the same parking area with the football stadium Kroger Field and the softball stadium.
Return on Investment 4
The prices of a ticket are $10 for home plate reserved seats and $5 to $8 for dugout chair backs and terrace/berm seating. The parking is free for home games, but certain rivals should encourage fans to arrive a tad earlier. The price of food is fairly inexpensive, but a can of beer will cost you close to $9.
There are many nice touches throughout the ballpark that includes a map of Kentucky outside the main entrance, a team mural down the left field line, and wood-engraved designs for its large areas on the main concourse. There are also flashing blue and white light poles outside the exits of the ballpark.
The Wildcats feature a horse race where fans can send a tweet with a hashtag of the horses' names. The results are uploaded to the video board, and fans get to see the contest after the 5th inning.
A very impressive ballpark for one of the SEC's most northern stadiums. Kentucky Proud Park should fit in nicely with the conference's marquee venues for college baseball and perhaps make a few more fans come out to check out the Cats during the baseball season.