Extra Innings of Impact: Celebrating the Hot Rods 10th season in Bowling Green
Baseball is often referred to as America’s pastime, but it’s one that didn’t come to Vette City until 2009.
Ten years ago, a #BiGTime change came to Bowling Green.
"It kind of legitimizes a community when you have a professional sports team," said Hot Rods General Manager Eric C. Leach. "It gives us this, really, sense of identity."
The city’s first ever professional baseball team–the Hot Rods–took the community out to the old ball game.
"One of the two big things of bringing the team to town was put a ballpark downtown, kind of revitalize downtown, and make southcentral Kentucky more of a tourist destination," said Paul Taylor, Broadcaster and Media Relations Manager for the Hot Rods. "And I think both of those things have happened."
Taylor’s right. The ballpark has been a key factor for an economic boom in the area due to the tourists it attracts for events like the NAIA World Series Regionals, Bourbon and Brew Fest, Stand for Children Day, and many other events, like concerts.
"It’s tremendous to see how many events we hold here," Leach said. "It’s not just baseball. We hold 52 extra special events out here at the ballpark. We’ve become entrenched into the community really that way."
Taylor shared a similar sentiment.
"Kind of making Bowling Green more of a destination than maybe it was in previous years," he said.
In addition to drawing in more visitors to town, the Hot Rods presence in this city has resulted in a major boost for local businesses as well.
"It does create a destination," said Leach. "It’s working with other businesses and sharing that information between not just us, but having SkyPac events and how much it does impact. You’re going to continue to see that rise as people start dwelling and living in downtown Bowling Green. It’s going to have an even bigger impact."
From the moment the first pitch was thrown, winning games was never really the primary goal of the organization. Making a difference in their new Kentucky home, however, was.
"There’s been a renewed focus on engaging the community, and being involved in everything," Leach said.
"This really has a real community feel here, and that really makes a difference," said Taylor.
It’s been a decade of difference-making for the Hot Rods. Even though they may have struck out here and there, they feel like they’ve hit a home run in a place where they feel right at home.
"You become a fabric of the community," Leach said. "It’s much like Western’s whose been he for over 100 years, and they’re entrenched into the community. We’re just a little blip. We’re ten years, but we’ve done a great job recently of just being plugged in."
The Hot Rods celebrated their 10th season in Bowling Green with their inaugural class into the Hot Rods Hall of Fame, honoring Matt Moore and Kevin Kiermaier as the first ever honorees. The organization all held a special night to recognize their two-millionth fan.