Louisville Slugger Field - Louisville Bats
Photos by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.00
Louisville Slugger Field 401 E Main St Louisville, KY 40202
Year Opened: 2000
Louisville Slugger Field is New & Improved
The city of Louisville has rich baseball history since the 19th century. Its first major league club, the Eclipse, were members of the American Association from 1882-1891 before changing its name to the Colonels after the 1884 season. The Colonels would join the National League in 1882 and remain in the league for the rest of the decade before owner Barney Dreyfuss acquired a controlling interest in the Pittsburgh Pirates and allocated 14 members to the Bucs in 1900. One of those players was Hall of Famer Honus Wagner.
The Colonels would operate as a minor league club as members of the American Association until the league folded after the 1961 season. Six years later, the Colonels were back as members of the International League as a Boston Red Sox affiliate but would relocate to Pawtucket, Rhode Island, after the 1972 season. In 1981 baseball would be back for good with the Louisville Redbirds, and the St. Louis Cardinal affiliate would become the first minor league ballclub to attract over one million fans in a season in 1982.
The Redbirds rebranded as the RiverBats in 1998 and then shorten the name to the Bats a few years later. In 2000. the 13. 131-seat Louisville Slugger Field debuted along the Ohio River. It would be one of the top drawing facilities in minor league baseball for the next decade.
A key design feature of the $40 million ballpark is the integration of a historic rail freight depot at the main entrance. The restoration of the late 19th-century depot station is a vital component that houses everything from weddings, meetings, and a children’s play area.
The 2021 season included $7 million worth of renovations that transformed the outfield concourse removed the bleacher seating, and transformed the area into a social area for fans during the game. The additions included new outfield bars, an expanded kids area, and tiered lawn seating. There were other improvements in other areas of the ballpark, including premier seating behind home plate, net extensions, and three new LED video boards.
Food & Beverage 3
There are more than 50 different menu options at Louisville Slugger Field, providing a combination of wonderful smells inside the ballpark as customers are delighted by the ballpark staples of hot dogs, nachos, peanuts, and beer. There is a Mexican stand that allows visitors to create their own large nachos portions including toppings of tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, melted cheese, and sour cream.
Louisville Links include the grand slam dog, spicy Italian sausage, fried bologna sandwich, and the slugger dog. The First Base, Homeplate Snacks, and Third Base Grill stands feature burger platters, chicken tenders, veggie burgers, nachos, soft pretzels, soda, and domestic bottled and draft beers.
River Falls Pizza is located on the 3rd base side with garlic cheese bread and individual cheese pizzas. Number Juan Tequila has a small window stand with mixed drinks, beer, and bourbon. Graeter’s Ice Cream and other sweet treats can be found at the ballpark.
The Overlook Grill features kettle chips with beer cheese, sausage and cheese bites, pretzel bites, popcorn, and peanuts. The Louisville Hops stand in centerfield offers local beers from Atrium, Against the Grain, and Fall City. There are also Slugger-ritas, frozen margaritas.
The ballpark stands out among its contemporaries in the league with an expansive brick exterior. The main entrance of the stadium was once a train shed and home to the Brinly-Hardy warehouse. The historic building structure was preserved and incorporated into the ballpark’s design. Guest entering through the main entrance will walk through the old train shed. This creates an indoor space for inflatable rides for kids, and window cases with memorabilia that includes jerseys, photos, accolades, and championship banners.
Once inside the stadium, fans will take notice of the views of Louisville’s skyline, which includes the various bridges crossing the Ohio River into Indiana. The outfield concourse went through a $7 million renovation before the 2021 season and includes the Miller Time Tap House that houses cushion lounge chairs and tables, an outdoor bar, curved railing for views of the game, and a variety of beers on tap.
The right field corner has tier grass seating, where seating once stood, that includes trees and a neighborhood park atmosphere at the game. The kids’ zone right behind the grass seating has been updated with modern playground equipment that includes slides, swings, and other fun for the children.
The main concourse behind the infield features legacy banners of former players hanging from the ceiling, large concession and kiosks, and the Bats Team Store that features a variety of caps, shirts, and other team spirits. Seating in this area also provides a great view of the stadium and the skyline behind the outfield walls. Buddy Bat, the official mascot, roams the ballpark offering hugs, high fives, and photo opportunities.
Louisville Slugger Field is located within steps of the Louisville Waterfront Park and blocks of the KFC Yum! Center. The Troll Pub serves typical pub fare, but in a dungeon-like atmosphere where you can also take a picture with a ceramic troll. Adjacent to the Troll Bar is the Sidebar, where bourbon and bourbon-inspired cocktails are in fashion. A few blocks away is the popular 4th Street Live, a one-stop destination for retail, dining, and entertainment, local restaurants are abundant in two levels of fantastic nightlife.
Louisville is a foodie town and local restaurants are abundant opening that not only fans of visitors, but that of the local populace. Royals Hot Chicken and FeaThe feasts are both located in the East Market District of the city and offer affordable and delicious cuisine. Feast is known for its barbecue, but it also has excellent desserts (s’mores chocolate chess pie, sides (vinegar slaw), and drinks (bourbon shakes).
Another favorite is the Garage Bar, housed in a former auto service garage, serving up ice cold beer, bourbons, wood-fired pizzas, and Southern menu items. Also, a great spot for a few rounds of cornhole or table tennis. If you are still looking for more options in the neighborhood check out Grind Burger Kitchen and Akasha Brewing Company. Merle’s Whiskey Kitchen offers great soul food and lives music. Holy Grale is a unique gastropub featuring a long, rotating beer list & locavore fare in a 1905 former church.
The Louisville Slugger Museum, Churchill Downs (racing after dark during June and July), the University of Louisville, and the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience is not your typical bourbon trail tour. You will be able to keep yourself busy in town before or after a baseball game. Make a weekend out of the visit and enjoy this great city.
The Bats attracted over 600,000 fans for each of its first 12 seasons at the ballpark. Those numbers have dipped down a bit in the past few seasons, but the team has averaged a very respectable 7,000 plus per game during that time. A Louisville fan enjoys a good night out, but maybe even baseball a little bit more. The crowd is old-fashioned gear, both new (blue and red) and old (purple and black), and can be heard talking with good old-fashioned baseball lingo. Everyone in attendance is there for a great night out of baseball, food, and drink.
Whether you are crossing into Kentucky over the Ohio River from Indiana on either I-64 or I-65, Louisville Slugger Field is visible from the interstate. A quick distance from Exit 136C and you can find either parking on the streets (meters expire at 6 pm) or in lots across the street from the stadium for $6. The choice is yours, but I have been lucky enough to find free parking at the meters for evening games a few blocks away from the stadium. It is well worth saving some money for a short walk.
Return on Investment 4
Tickets to a Bats game begin at $9 for lawn seating and then $13 for seating down each baseline. The first two rows behind the home plate are $55 and include $10 at the Team Store or concession stands. The price to park is $9 to $10 in the adjacent lots of the stadium, but there are less expensive lots and free street parking (depending on the day and time). Concession and team store pricing is comparable with other minor league ballparks on the Triple-A market.
Against the Grain is connected to the stadium down the right field line. The fully operational restaurant is open year-round and offers barbecue, handcrafted beers, and life urban. The smell alone would merit an additional star and so could the outdoor patio seating that is full of life before and after games. The Kentucky Hi-Five–a shot of bourbon and a pint of lager for $6 as of this writing.
The historic freight rail train depot is an enclosed section of the building that is draped with the various championship pennants won by the club since 1901 and is used for various events all year long.
The Miller Time Tap House is in the center field and provides spectacular views of the city’s skyline, bridges, river, and the game itself. The renovations have made it a relaxing spot to view the game and take in views of the city skyline. Thursday night features live music before the game in this area of the stadium.
The organization does an incredible job of providing a link to its predecessors and the rich history of baseball in the city with pictures, banners, trophies, and artifacts all on display inside the main entrances. A glorious statue of Major League Baseball Hall of Famer and Louisville native Pee Wee Reese adorns the main entrance. There are photos of the city’s former ballparks that include bricks from Parkway Field creating a frame for the black and white photo and a larger-than-life picture of Honus Wagner who began his career in town in 1897.
A visitor can expect a great time at Louisville Slugger Field. The Bats provide affordable ticket pricing, and amazing food selection, wonderful views of the game and city, and history inside the ballpark. It is a classic-looking baseball stadium situated in a great part of the city.