Louisville Slugger Field will continue to host the Louisville Bats (Class AAA; International League) through the 2038 season, part of a lease extension that includes future ballpark upgrades.
The lease extension came as the Bats approached the expiration of their previous Louisville Slugger Field lease, which was set to expire next March. Under the terms of the new deal, the Bats will pay a little over $14 million over 20 years to use the facility, while Louisville will provide $8 million in capital budget funds toward future ballpark improvements.
Plans for which parts of Louisville Slugger Field will be upgraded have not been finalized, though a number of potential improvements appear to be under consideration. More from the Courier-Journal:
In return for Louisville’s up-front commitment of $8 million, the Bats will pay $600,000 in rent this season and a total of $14.02 million over the 20-year term of the lease. The city would also be due a $2 per ticket surcharge for every seat sold beyond 528,000 in a given season.
Considering how contentious budget debates can be, the ballpark improvements encountered no meaningful opposition.
“Slugger Field is an almost 20-year old Metro-owned facility which has not had a significant renovation,” said Bill Hollander, chairman of Metro Council’s budget committee. “The investment will keep the community’s asset from deteriorating and secure the baseball team as a tenant well into the future.”
Still to be determined is how the $8 million will be spent. In keeping with baseball’s heightened concern for spectator safety, protective netting may be extended toward the foul poles. Bats vice president Greg Galiette anticipates seating capacity may be reduced from 13,131 to accommodate an expanded picnic area. With season ticket sales in broad decline throughout sports, creating dedicated space for groups to gather has gained priority.
Louisville Slugger Field has been home to the Bats since its 2000 opening. It has also been used in recent years by USL Championship’s Louisville City FC, though that club is planning to open a new soccer-specific stadium in the city’s Butchertown neighborhood next spring.