Explore Bowling Green's Bowling Green Ballpark
Welcome to Bowling Green's Bowling Green Ballpark, where winning championships has quickly become the standard. Rev up your engines in this automobile haven and enjoy a ballpark with a Major League atmosphere at Minor League prices.
Bowling Green Hot Rods (affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays since 2009)
Ballpark: Bowling Green Ballpark (opened 2009)
League: South Atlantic League
Championships: 2018, 2021, 2022
Notable Alumni: Shane McClanahan, Jesús Sánchez, Willy Adames, Ryne Stanek, Blake Snell, Shane Baz, Kirby Yates, Kevin Kiermaier, Matt Moore, Jake Cronenworth
The Bowling Green Hot Rods are located in Bowling Green, Ky., situated in the southwest part of the state and an hour's drive from Nashville. As of 2020, the city is the third-largest in the state behind Louisville and Lexington. The Hot Rods moniker is a nod to the region's deep ties to the automobile and racing industries.
The club began its life in North Carolina as a South Atlantic League expansion team in 2001, known as the Wilmington Waves. It only lasted a single year there, and the franchise hopped around to a few different cities before finding its current home in 2009 as a Rays affiliate. It stayed in the Single-A South Atlantic League (also known as the Sally League) for its inaugural season before moving to the Single-A Midwest League for the next decade. Both leagues were elevated to High-A status after the 2021 restructuring of the Minor Leagues, and the Hot Rods returned to the Sally League in 2022.
Before the Hot Rods came to town, Bowling Green had not hosted a baseball team for 67 years -- the last club to call this Kentucky city home was the Bowling Green Barons from 1939-42.
The Hot Rods have become an integral piece of a robust Tampa Bay system in recent years. They've taken home the last two league championships and have claimed three titles in the last four seasons (2020 notwithstanding). In the 13 seasons since its inception, the club finished top three in the division nine times. For all that regular-season success, though, Bowling Green did not win a single playoff game from 2011-13 before winning its first playoff series in 2018 when it captured its first league title.
The Hot Rods have run some of the most popular promotions in the Minors, but there are two staples that stand out. On Thursdays during the season, the club becomes the Bowling Green Bootleggers, paying tribute to the city's bootlegging and bourbon history. Perhaps more exciting, fans can bring their dog to the park for free on Tuesdays.
Like many stadiums, Bowling Green Ballpark features a Kids Zone that's perfect for families -- there's a playground, a bottle toss and a speed pitch game in right field in addition to a splash pad in center. A unique feature to this ballpark, though, is the bright blue and white carousel in right field that quite literally offers a 360 degree view. If you've ever wanted to ride a merry-go-round while watching a baseball game, Bowling Green is your place.
Bowling Green Ballpark
300 E. 8th Ave
Bowling Green, KY 42101
Dimensions: left field, 318 feet; center field, 400 feet; right field, 326 feet
Park Factors (2021-22)
100 = league average
Runs: 94 | Homers: 99 | Hits: 92
South Atlantic League environment: 5.00 runs per team per game (fifth-highest among 11 full-season leagues)
Just seven minutes west off I-65, Bowling Green Ballpark is situated downtown on the corner of Kentucky Street and East 8th Avenue, just off Route 68. State Route 234, which runs behind the stadium, curves in such a way that when the stadium was being constructed, it was build concave in right to accommodate for the road, giving the entire park a unique shape.
There are multiple free parking lots around the stadium, making it easy for fans to access. The main entrance is located on the first-base side, along with a secondary gate down the third-base line. The park layout is cozy and conventional, offering field-level seating as well as suites behind home plate and down the third-base line. Also located above the concourse is a party deck available for reservation.
There are two grassy areas for fans to enjoy -- one in front of the Kids Zone in right field and another next to the splash zone in center. No matter where you choose to sit, you'll get a perfect view of the game.
The park features a pair of LED videoboards -- the main one in right-center stands at 35 feet tall and 56 feet wide, and there's another horizontal display board embedded into the left-field wall that measures at 68 feet long. Both displays give the park a modern feel while staying accessible and family-friendly.
The park underwent a $2 million renovation prior to the 2019 season. Part of that included the construction of a 360 degree concourse around the entire stadium, meaning fans can watch the game from multiple different spots in the park -- not just ticketed seats or a single berm.
The park offers up mostly traditional fare while constantly adding new concessions for fans to try, such as chili pies, nachos and different types of sandwiches. There are also regular promotions that offer beers for less than $5 all throughout the regular season and the postseason. Perhaps the most famous (or infamous) offering is the Bootlegger Burger -- a cheeseburger with bacon jam and barbecue sauce ... sandwiched between a Moon Pie. Definitely not for the faint of heart.
Axle the bear has been with the team since its creation in 2009. He sports a bright orange jersey with navy shorts and orange shoes. In 2010, Roscoe the grease monkey joined him, donning a navy Hot Rods jersey.
In addition to the mascots, fans are also be graced by the presence of Turbo the bat dog at games. Not only is he a very good boy, but he has his very own Twitter account where he always posts the most adorable pictures of himself.
Where to Stay
Headed to the stadium and looking for a hotel nearby? Your Wyndham is waiting. As the Official Hotel of Minor League Baseball, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts welcomes baseball fans with a portfolio of 24 trusted brands. Find Hotels by Wyndham closest to the ballpark below and book now at wyndhamhotels.com.
• Days Inn & Suites by Wyndham Bowling Green
• Super 8 by Wyndham Bowling Green North
• Baymont by Wyndham Bowling Green
• Wingate by Wyndham Bowling Green
• La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Bowling Green
If you're a car person, Bowling Green is the place for you. Right off I-65 about 10 minutes from the park is the National Corvette Museum. With over 70 different models on display and a ton of art and memorabilia to see, the museum attracts auto lovers from all over the country. The Historic RailPark & Train Museum is about a minute from the park. A former station, the museum features a model railroad and vintage cars along with exhibits. Right on the edge of Western Kentucky University's campus is the Kentucky Museum, which celebrates the region's history.
For entertainment, the Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center is directly across the street from the park. For a leisurely stroll, head over to Fountain Square Park for a short walk or take the extra few minutes to drive to the Baker Arboretum & Downing Museum to enjoy some artwork and plants.
Food and Drink
There is no shortage of restaurants and cafes to try within walking distance of the stadium. You can start your morning off with a drink and pastry from Spencer's Coffee, or grab something in the afternoon from the Lunch Box Cafe.
For a taste of the south, head over to S & D Soul Favorites for some soul classics like mac n' cheese, hush puppies and chicken. For good brews, check out Gasper Brewing Co for a unique atmosphere or Gerard's 1907 Tavern for a pub experience. For a more conventional sit-down experience, try Hickory & Oak or Thai Thai.
The Hot Rods are one of two teams in the Bluegrass State, the other being the Triple-A Louisville Bats about two hours north. Drive an hour south down I-65 and you'll reach the Triple-A Nashville Sounds. From there, you can keep driving south or head east to find more Minor League Baseball, although that would be a multi-day journey.
The Road to Tampa
Though there isn't too great a distance between any two affiliates, Rays prospects will travel to four different states on their way to Tampa Bay -- first South Carolina, then Kentucky and Alabama, before making their final stop at one of the Minors' most iconic franchises in North Carolina.