Kentucky Proud Park – Kentucky Wildcats
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A Ballpark to be Proud of in Kentucky
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.
KPP offers a capacity for 2,500 fans and can accommodate up to 5,000 fans with additional space on 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 home to the eighth largest video board in college baseball measuring at 48 feet wide by 30 feet tall.
The modern and sleek design of the ballpark should add to the impressive resume of the SEC and should make it a viable option to enjoy the game in a grand atmosphere against nearby rivals in Louisville and division foes from Vanderbilt, Georgia, Texas A&M, and Tennessee.
How does the University of Kentucky’s new baseball palace hold up in the land of bourbon, basketball, and thoroughbreds? So far, so good.
Food & Beverage 4
There are two main concession stands down each baseline that offer a welcomed variety of ballpark food and other items not commonly found at a collegiate baseball stadium. 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, and Sno Kones, and Dippin’ Dots also in that price range.
House of Cue is a local barbecue restaurant that takes up the first base side and offers visitors barbecue nachos, pulled pork or smoked chicken tacos, barbecue sandwich, and a special of the day (brisket sandwich with a side of coleslaw tonight) that also includes four homemade sauces for around $9 a portion.
Athenian Grill on the third base side offers a lamb burger (very fancy for a college ballpark), gyros, Greek salad, chicken wrap, and something very unique, Greek fried cheese curds between $7-$9. You can wash all of the tasty options with a fountain drink but alcohol is prohibited at the stadium.
Kentucky Proud Park could easily be a Single-A stadium and features all the amenities that fans expect at a baseball stadium: A wide-open concourse that wraps around the diamond, club and loge areas, variety at the concession stand, play area for kids, 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 sit a small family in certain sections. One would be impressed with all that could be found at the stadium that also includes a grass area where the kids can be entertained throughout the game.
The stadium provides an interactive screen that provides a wealth of data where fans can touch the screen to find out more details that includes 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 can feature 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.
The University of Kentucky is located in Lexington that has a metro population of more than 520,000 residents. The city has a small-town feel and offers an array of nightlife, attractions, and plenty of distilleries and horse racing.
The city is home to two horse racing tracks: Keeneland (thoroughbred) and Red Mile (harness) that offer racing throughout the calendar year. Kentucky Horse Park is a working horse farm and an educational theme park that offers attractions and a great place for kids and racing aficionados.
To say bourbon is popular would be an understatement as the area is in the heart of the Bourbon Trail. Nearby distilleries include Buffalo Trace, Four Roses, Wild Turkey, Woodford Reserve, and Town Branch (located in town and also features a brewery). 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 Polar Twin, Country Boy, Ethereal, and Blue Stallion Brewing. Red State BBQ is located outside of town, but worth a visit for great barbecue.
There is also the chance that your visit may coincide with a Kentucky Wildcats basketball game at Rupp Arena or a Lexington Legends baseball game at Whitaker Bank 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 5,000 seat stadium is home to a proud fan base that is making a name for itself in the SEC and is privy to some great baseball in a facility that should be the envy of any ballpark within reasonable driving distance. The crowds are small, but that does not stop diehards from yelling, cheering, and screaming during the game. The minor league feel is evident with groups of kids playing around the kids’ grass area down the left field foul line.
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 clearly marked. The ballpark shares the same parking area with the football stadium Kroger Field and the softball stadium.
Return on Investment 4
The price of a ticket won’t cost you more than $10. Club, loge, and box seats are sold out for the season, but reserved seating behind home plate is $10, while general admission behind the dugouts and terrace/grass berm is $8. Youth and seniors get into the game for $5 each game.
There are multiple free lots around the stadium and concessions are reasonably priced with most options between $5 to $10 that include various options not found at too many college baseball stadiums.
The 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 loge areas on the main concourse. There are also flashing blue and white light poles outside the exits of the ballpark.
There is an interactive screen that enables fans to touch to view team history, stadium information, players who played in the major leagues and design a uniform that can be sent through their own email.
The Wildcats feature a horse race where fans are able to send a tweet with a hashtag of the horse’s name. The results are uploaded to the video board and fans get to see the contest after the 5th inning.
The food variety is quite nice and a bit above your typical ballpark food. There are two local restaurants that provide slow-cooked barbecue sandwiches and plates, along with Greek favorites from lamb burgers and gyros.
A very impressive ballpark for one of the SEC most northern stadiums. Kentucky Proud Park should fit in nicely with the conferences marquee venues for college baseball and perhaps make a few more fans come out to check out the Cats during the baseball season.
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