Louisville Slugger Field, the home of the International League's Louisville Bats, is often cited as one of the best ballparks in Triple-A Baseball. In 2008, the whole country will get a chance to find out why.
The 13,000-seat facility, which opened in 2000 and is located on the banks of the Ohio River, will soon get a chance to shine on a national stage. It was announced on Monday that Louisville will host the 2008 Triple-A All-Star Game.
The nationally televised event pits the premier players from Minor League Baseball's top two circuits -- the International League and the Pacific Coast League -- against one another. The 2006 contest, in which the International League blanked the Pacific Coast League, 6-0, was played at Toledo's Fifth Third Field. 2007's All-Star matchup will take place in Albuquerque's Isotopes Park
. "We built Louisville Slugger Field as a jewelbox ballpark, which has spurred tens of millions of dollars in investment in the surrounding area, and now we will showcase it to a national audience," Louisville mayor Jerry Abramson said. "This is an incredible honor for an incredible ballpark."
Louisville last hosted the Triple-A All-Star Game in 1991, an entirely different era of Minor League Baseball in the "Derby City." The city's Triple-A franchise was then called the Louisville Cardinals, and competed in the now-defunct American Association. That year's All-Star Game was played on the artificial turf of Cardinal Stadium, a cavernous facility the club shared with the University of Louisville football team. The National League affiliates edged the American League affiliates, 6-5, in a contest that featured the likes of Denny Neagle, Kenny Lofton and Tino Martinez.
The 2008 All-Star Game, meanwhile, will be the centerpiece of a three-day celebration that will also feature a Home Run Derby, an All-Star Fan Fest and other events sure to highlight Louisville's revitalized downtown area.
"Triple-A Baseball is thrilled to be headed back to Louisville with the All-Star Game," said International League president Randy Mobley. "Louisville has changed so dramatically since it hosted the game in 1991 and baseball winter meetings in 1992. Baseball executives from around the country will have quite a time in the new downtown Louisville."
It certainly won't just be executives who will flock to Louisville for the 2008 All-Star Game, although forward-thinking fans will have to wait a little while to secure admission to the event. Tickets will initially be made available to Bats season-ticket holders before going on sale to the general public in spring 2008.