Louisville Bats find a way to get fans back and renovate amid coronavirus

Despite the coronavirus crisis, Slugger Field is still moving forward with its renovation...
Despite the coronavirus crisis, Slugger Field is still moving forward with its renovation project, as well as some fun promotional events for fans this summer.(WAVE 3 News)
Published: Jul. 24, 2020 at 7:27 PM EDT
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Slugger Field is moving ahead with its $8 million, two-and-a-half-year renovation.
Slugger Field is moving ahead with its $8 million, two-and-a-half-year renovation.(WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - It’s a favorite part of summer that many are missing because of the coronavirus crisis.

There are no sounds of bats cracking or hearing the call to play ball at Louisville Slugger Field, but even with the minor league season canceled, the Louisville Bats are in the swing of getting fans back to the ballpark.

Baseball will be seen by way of Hollywood, thanks to “Field of Dreams.”

“It’s a 30-year-old movie and it seems to have hit a cord with a lot of people,” Louisville Bats Executive Vice President Greg Galiette of the classic baseball movie starring Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones. “We’ve had a great response in the fact that we’ve only been open and selling this for a week.”

“Field of Dreams” was planned to kick off the Movie Night Series on Friday. Families in the sold-out crowd would have had socially-distanced spaces for their blankets, but protests in the area prompted its cancelation.

The next hit for the Bats comes Aug. 4.

“It’s the first-ever ‘Dinner on the Diamond,‘” Galiette said. Center Plate chefs will serve fans dinner in the infield, from the base path to the home plate. And in response to fans’ requests to be able to swing the bat on Slugger Field, Galiette said that’s going to happen, too.

“When the season was canceled, it seemed like it would be natural if we go ahead and put that in motion,” he said.

Yes, batting practice can now be had by groups of 10 or more. All of these creative ideas are ways to keep the game going. And if there’s a positive about the coronavirus, Galiette said it’s that the park’s planned $8 million, two-and-a-half-year renovation is getting done now with construction moving fast. A new, expanded playground; two new bars covered with sun canopies; new LED boards, and many more enhancements may be finished by opening day 2021.

The bleachers will be phased out for expanded catering, taking field seating from around 13,000 to about 11,500.

“If you go to any of the new Triple-A ballparks around the country, they are mostly 9,000 and 10,000 seats,” Galiette said. “So, I think folks are going to find that even though Louisville Slugger Field had a great atmosphere before, it’s even going to be more quaint and a better atmosphere going forward.“

Tickets for the next family movie night go on sale soon. “Frozen 2″ will be shown at the ballpark on Aug. 21. Get tickets at the Louisville Bats website.

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