LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - After more than a year without baseball at Louisville Slugger Field, the Louisville Bats welcomed fans back to the stadium.
“After 18 months of not putting on a baseball game, it’s pretty exciting,” Executive Vice President of the Louisville Bats Greg Galiette said. “You can just feel the magic in the air. The buzz is back in town and we’re looking forward to putting on a great show.”
Things around the ballpark look different than they did 18 months ago.
Louisville Slugger Field is allowing fans in the stands at a limited capacity. Masks are required inside the stadium unless someone is actively eating or drinking. There are also ropes blocking off seats throughout the stadium to ensure social distancing.
The ballpark is also still under construction with the planned $8 million, two-and-a-half-year renovation. The plans include a new, expanded playground for children, two new sports bars covered with sun canopies, new LED boards, and more.
“We have a brand new netting system,” Galiette explained. “It takes the safety net down both lines almost from foul pole to foul pole so fans can sit in safety and comfort, especially those parents with young children.”
Galiette said because COVID-19 canceled baseball last year, construction is ahead of schedule.
For fans, the ballpark reopening this season is just what they needed.
“I’m thrilled to be here,” Wade Greegor told WAVE 3 News. “It’s my first game back here after 610 days.”
Those who have watched a game at Louisville Slugger Field over the past several seasons have likely seen Wade Greegor near the pole on the left field foul line with his fishing net ready to catch any foul balls.
“Occasionally a ball will roll foul past the third baseman and you have to be prepared for any occasion,” Greegor explained.
For 17 years, he has been a partial or full-season ticket holder with the Louisville Bats. He’s said happy to be back in the stands with other fans again and encouraged others to make sure they attend at least one game this season.
“We didn’t have anything to do last year and we need to make up for lost time,” he said.
Just a section away, Bob Nash, his father, and a family friend were excited to be back, too.
“I love baseball,” Nash said. “We’ve always been baseball fans. The two gentlemen I go with, my dad and George were baseball players. I was a baseball player growing up when I was a kid. It’s just good. It’s a great time.”
For twenty years, Nash, his father, and friend George have always gone to the Bats Opening game, except last year because it was canceled. He said he’s glad the tradition can continue this year.
“It’s just one of those things of hope because you know with the vaccines and everything like that, what’s going on, we’re going to get better,” he said. “More and more people are going to start coming out and we’re going to get back to normal again>”
Galiette urged people to buy tickets in advance here.