I have participated in the AP Human Geography Reading since 2011, which has taken place in Cincinnati each year. I regularly attend Cincinnati Reds games while there, but also try to catch a game at a stadium I haven’t visited before or watch a contest at a stadium I have not blogged about previously.
On my drive back to Georgia this year, I decided to make two stops: Bowling Green, Ky., and Nashville, Tenn. I’ve been through Bowling Green and visited many of the sights in town, but my last visit was prior to the Hot Rods moving there in 2009.
As MiLB.com’s Ben Hill detailed last spring, the stadium is at the center of a revitalized downtown. If you want to read about his visit, you can click here for details. I parked my car by Fountain Square Park, snapped some pictures of the park, and then walked over to the stadium. There is plenty of parking on the streets around the stadium, if people prefer to park closer. I wanted to visit the park, so chose to park there and make the short walk to the ballpark.
The stadium’s entrance is unique because it doesn’t scream out “baseball stadium here.” The most unique part of the entrance is the painting on the side detailing how to swing a baseball bat.
|Main facade of the ballpark with its address.|
|Part 1 of 2 detailing how to swing a baseball bat.|
|Part 2 of 2 detailing how to swing a baseball bat along with the main gate.|
By the ticket office is the only imagery outside the stadium displaying the Hot Rods logo.
|Only spot on front of the stadium with Hot Rods logo.|
The team draws its name from the General Motors Assembly Plant, which is home of the Corvette, but instead of incorporating a sleek, modern hot rod-style the team went with the 1930s and 1940s models for its logo.
The car theme is evident throughout the stadium, such as Chuck’s Liquor Outlets Garage. It wasn’t until the next day that I realized the local sponsorship because I really focused on the name “Chuck’s Garage” and the baseball bat hanging below it. I also made a stop at Chuck’s Liquor Outlets and bought two 750ml bottles of Voodoo Doughnut Maple Bacon Ale made by Rogue Ales. The unique part about the bat is that it appears as if it was dipped in red wax like a bottle of Maker’s Mark bourbon.
|Signage for Chuck’s Liquor Outlets Garage features a baseball dipped in red wax like a Maker’s Mark bottle.|
|Close-up of the hot rod pickup.|
Unlike Ben Hill’s designated eaters, I did not have access to the Stadium Club. Therefore, I did not get to sample the Grand Slam Burger. The burger choices on the concourse level can be seen below…
|The burger selection.|
All the above burgers are available at Black Mountain Burgers.
|The burger stand on the main concourse.|
I really wanted to try the Grand Slam burger, and asked multiple employees about it. Unfortunately, nobody was able to tell me where I could find it. However, on my quest for burger heaven I was able to get my picture taken with both of the team’s mascots: Axle the Bear and Roscoe the Grease Monkey.
|Me with Axle the Bear.|
|Me with Roscoe the Grease Monkey.|
Between my mascot photos and trying to decide on what to eat for dinner, I watched some baseball and took my seat behind home plate for the first pitch.
|First pitch between the Fort Wayne TinCaps and Bowling Green Hot Rods.|
I previously mentioned the ballpark as part of a revitalized downtown, and before I continue to neglect that topic I should include a picture of Hitcents Park Plaza. It contains office space, but most notably has numerous restaurants on the first floor. I had a beer at Mariah’s before entering the stadium, but there were several other restaurants on the ground floor of the building. None of the restaurants appeared packed, but on the Monday night I attended a game the restaurants all had a crowd of people dining and drinking before the ballgame.
|The kids’ area of the ballpark with Hitcents Park Plaza in the background.|
Here is a shot of Hitcents Park Plaza from a distance.
|View of Hitcents Park Plaza from the third base line.|
Despite perusing the choices at Black Mountain Burgers, I could not decide on what to eat. So I continued to explore the ballpark while watching the game.
|Hot Rods starting pitcher Jaime Schultz.|
|Hot Rods designated hitter Armando Araiza.|
|Steakadelphia mobile stand down the third base line.|
In the 3rd inning, I finally made a decision about my meal. I decided to order a Kentucky Hot Brown sandwich. I’ve had a Hot Brown many times because I spent two years of my undergraduate education at the University of Kentucky. However, I’ve never had a Kentucky Hot Brown at a baseball game.
|I’ve gotten very good over the years at the one-handed photo of my ballpark food.|
The Hot Brown was served on a hoagie roll, so instead of having it in the customary open-face fashion I folded the sandwich together after taking my picture. It was good, and for those who are unfamiliar with a Hot Brown I highly suggest ordering it. However, as a purist I would have preferred to eat it as an open-face sandwich with a knife and fork. Admittedly eating food with a fork and knife while sitting at a baseball game isn’t easy, so I don’t blame the Hot Rods for tweaking the sandwich.
In addition to the very good food variety, the beer selection at Chuck’s Liquors Outlets Garage was good. There were the standard craft beer choices, but no particularly interesting local or Kentucky choices. Maybe I was just being picky after spending a week in Cincinnati, where I had a plethora of unique options available. Regardless, beer aficionados should be able to find something to suit their tastes. I opted for a Goose Island Honker’s Ale.
I have to admit I didn’t pay a lot of attention to the between innings promotions, but when I was watching they seemed to be standard fare for a minor league team. Two things that did stick out were the scoreboard and the retired number above the Hot Rods bullpen.
|High-definition scoreboards have become common place at minor league stadiums, but note the Corvette Assembly sponsorship. Not many teams would swing that sponsorship deal.|
Minor league teams do retire numbers, although it’s not often. While Jackie Robinson’s #42 was retired throughout Major League Baseball in 1997. Minor League Baseball is not bound by this retirement, but some teams have chosen to honor Robinson’s legacy by retiring his number.
|“42” in honor of Jackie Robinson above the home team bullpen.|
Bowling Green Ballpark does not have a flashy exterior and it’s interior fails to meet any grandiose, extravagant designs of some newer stadiums. However, if you want to visit a beautiful ballpark in a re-born downtown where the team places an emphasis on #FUNNER then this is the place for you.