Whitaker Bank Ballpark – Lexington Legends
A Twist of the Stache
Whitaker Bank Ballpark opened in 2001 and returned professional baseball back to Lexington, Kentucky for the first time since 1954. At the time of its construction, the city was the largest market without a baseball team. Fans quickly embraced the franchise, purchasing 1,950 season tickets within hours of going on sale establishing a new South Atlantic League record.
The 6,994-seat stadium was built in an era that saw 77 minor league ballparks built within a ten year period. Construction of the facility cost $13.5 million and was part of a $23 million complex privately financed by a group of 23 local investors, led by principal owner Brad Redmond. In 2016, the ballpark went through $500,000 in renovations resulting in a wider entry plaza, expansion of the official team store renamed Stache Shoppe and the addition of the Bullpen Patio.
Today, the Lexington Legends have cemented itself among the fabric of the community where horse racing and college basketball reign supreme. It’s handlebar mustache logo–inspired from its mascot “Big L”–is a signature at the ballpark and throughout minor league baseball.
The ballpark is a cozy, modest facility that has a much older feel to it than its age. Its location is in a very unassuming part of town, but only a few miles from the nearest interstate or downtown corridors. Then again, there is something wonderfully simplistic driving down a small road and having a baseball stadium pop into view on the horizon.
Food & Beverage 3
The usual can be found at the ballpark with the addition of a few interesting concession items. There are few new editions that include the KoBobinit on the third base line offering steak, sausage, chicken, and veggie kabobs with house-made sauces including a siracha-mayo blend, teriyaki, and jerk. Across the way are funnel cakes, corn dogs, and loaded fries for sale. You can also get a big bag of kettle corn or Donatos pizza in this area of the ballpark.
Another new edition is the Dickey’s BBQ Pit that is housed down the first base line where the specialty hot dog and Gold Star chili stand used to be; unfortunately, it was closed during our visit, but the Dickey’s logo is plastered on the cup holders throughout the seating area. Another disappointment was The Larry Mac burger that is advertised coming with two beef patties, jalapeno beer cheese, bacon, lettuce, and tomato, but when we ordered it, only the cheese was on the burger. A staff member advised us that the ingredients had changed, but were never corrected on the menu board.
It is a good thing the beer is inexpensive, Yuengling and Bud drafts sell for $6 and $11, while craft beer from local West 6th (highly recommended) cans are $5. If you are not a beer drinker, Pepsi products are available for $4. The best place to grab a bite to eat and enjoy the game is from the Kentucky Ale Tap Room. This full-service restaurant features an air-conditioned bar area and patio view directly behind home plate.
Whitaker Bank Ballpark design is heavily influenced by nearby horse racing tracks; elements of the sport include steeples and two murals on the exterior of the building. In total, there are eight steeples throughout the ballpark.
The ballpark itself features a steep seating bowl with excellent sight lines and a middle concourse providing access to all sections including the Pepsi Party Deck in right field, bleacher seats in left field, and the rather impressive Athena Kids play area behind the left field corner.
The 2,000-square-foot Bullpen Patio down the first base line was created for anyone to enjoy the game. The patio replaced a small grassy berm and follows a path of similar “hang out” space at both major and minor league parks. The area is standing room only and features beer and cocktail service.
The Kentucky Ale Taproom sits directly behind home plate offering drafts of their beer and bourbon along with a full-service menu and wait staff. The area also provides a partially covered outside patio to enjoy the game.
There are numerous promotional nights including Free Parking Mondays, 25 Cent Hot Dog Tuesdays, and Winning Wednesdays. Thirsty Thursdays offer $1 and $3 beer prices with Bark at the Park and Firework Fridays are two popular nights, but if you are with the kids, they get in free on Sunday afternoon.
The Legends have four different mascots that entertain guests throughout the game: Big L, Little L, PeeWee, and Elle. They are usually sighted in pairs walking the concourse and are always willing to take a few photographs with fans. The facility offers three designated areas for tobacco users behind the bleachers, Budweiser Stand, and near the main entrance.
The ballpark is in a rather odd part of town, in an era when ballparks were built in downtown lots or off an entrance ramp of a major freeway, Whitaker Bank Ballpark was constructed adjacent to a small strip mall 1.5 miles from the I-64 and I-75 interchanges. The best option is to take a drive downtown or to a few other areas around Lexington where one can find great restaurants, breweries, and distilleries.
A few suggestions when in town is a visit to Keeneland Racecourse, Alltech Kentucky Ale Brewery and Distillery, and Ashland. The town is also home to the University of Kentucky and its campus is also a recommended destination.
The town has an array of local restaurants that are worth savoring during your visit. Country Club offers local ingredients for its barbecue dishes in a contemporary setting, Limestone Blue serves homemade sandwiches all around $9, and Sav’s Grill and West African Cuisine will tantalize your taste buds with vegan options and peanut goat/chicken dishes. If you are looking for a snack, grab a slice of New York-style pizza from Goodfellas downtown.
Attendance has been around 4,300 that past few years which is respectable and above the league average. The city endured 47 long years without professional baseball and they have continued to support the team in the college basketball and horse racing-centric city.
There are 1,200 parking spaces, plus 3,000 more within a 10-minute walk from the stadium. The middle concourse provides easy access to all points and concession stands are brightly lit. The small nature of the ballpark can create a nice tour of the facility if one is interested in taking photos or enjoying the game from different vantage points.
Return on Investment 4
The price of a ticket to watch a Legends game starts at $6 for bleachers and bullpen patio tickets; after that, the prices go up and alter on certain days and time. A box level seat costs $9 in advance, $10 on Friday and Saturday, and $11 the day of the game. The same price points for field level seats 11/12/13; however, club seats are $16 regardless of time or day. The price to park your car is $6 and concession prices are very reasonable, two corn dogs are just $5. If you are with the children, a $10 pass gets them to enjoy the Toyota Triple Play Zone all game long, with the exception of the bungee jump.
One star for the mural of Trinity Gay down the first base side of the exterior of the ballpark. The daughter of U.S. track star Tyson Gay was killed in a cross-fire shooting at a restaurant in 2016; she was just 15-years-old. The 30-foot mural was designed by Dani Green and includes the words “Pass the Baton.”
Another star for the Kentucky Ale Taproom, a great spot to enjoy the game from either inside the bar or on the patio in back of home plate on the middle concourse. This is one of the best views in the stadium and in the middle of all the action.
A third and final star for making every Thursday a chance to bring your dog to the game. Whitaker Bank Ballpark is one of many facilities expanding its Bark at the Park program. Fans attending a Legends game have 11-12 dates to choose from a year to enjoy the game with their best friend.
Whitaker Bank Ballpark was built in an era where minor league ballparks opened up across the country in record numbers. The stadium brought pro ball back to town for the first time since 1954 and unlike that season when the team ceased operations midway through the year on July 7, the Legends have placed themselves among the copious sporting and entertainment options for 17 years and growing in Lexington. A ballpark that features seats close to the diamond, cheap tickets and cheaper eats is what minor league baseball used to be and what it should still be for the average fan.
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Clarion Hotel Conference Center – North
1950 Newtown Pike
Lexington, KY 40505
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