For Cincinnati Reds fans who might not want to spend major-league money, there’s another option not far down Interstate 65.
The Louisville Bats, the Reds’ Triple-A affiliate, open their 2016 season Thursday and play their home opener a week later on April 14. And with tickets starting at just $10, games at Louisville Slugger Field are a reasonable alternative to the big-league games at Great American Ball Park.
In addition to offering a sneak peek at some of the Reds’ future stars, the Bats are hoping to lure fans with a wide array of promotions throughout the season.
“You’re going to have a relaxed environment where you’re going to have great promotions on a nightly basis,” said Ryan Ritchey, the Bats’ media relations director.
Club level: $18
Field reserved, bleachers & lawn seats: $10
A look at some of the Louisville Bats’ major promotions this season:
Thunder Over Louisville (vs. Indianapolis Indians, 2:05 p.m. April 23)
Though ticket prices are a bit higher for this annual event (starting at $30), it’s almost always a sellout, and for good reason. In addition to the afternoon game, fans will be treated to a postgame 1990s concert — and the nation’s largest annual fireworks show, which starts at approximately 9 p.m.
Princess Day (vs. Durham Bulls, 2:05 p.m. May 1)
In addition to the usual kid-friendly Sunday fare, there will be appearances by such famed princesses as Snow White, Cinderella, Belle and Anna.
Star Wars Night (vs. Columbus Clippers, 6:05 p.m. May 21)
It’s a Star Wars-themed evening featuring sights and sounds, photo ops and character appearances. Fans arriving in Star Wars costumes will receive discounted admission ($7 reserved, $10 premium, $15 club).
Superhero Night (vs. Rochester Red Wings, 6:05 p.m. June 4)
Fans dressed up in superhero costumes can get tickets at a discount ($7 reserved, $10 premium, $15 club) and have an opportunity to win prizes. There will also be an appearance by Captain America, and the first 2,000 fans through the gate will receive a free team hat.
Todd Frazier HR Derby Bobblehead Night (vs. Pawtucket Red Sox, 7:05 p.m. June 17)
The first 2,000 fans to arrive will each receive a bobblehead commemorating Todd Frazier’s victory in the Home Run Derby. There will also be postgame fireworks as well as a wine tasting presented by Barefoot where fans age 21 and up can taste different wines (25 cents per 3-ounce cup).
Vince Coleman/Billy Hamilton Bobblehead Night (vs. Lehigh Valley IronPigs, 6:05 p.m. July 23)
Each of the first 2,000 fans will receive a two-headed bobblehead acknowledging two of minor league baseball’s all-time great base stealers, Vince Coleman and Billy Hamilton.
The Famous Chicken (vs. Columbus Clippers, 6:05 p.m. Aug. 6)
The Famous Chicken, a lovable fixture around baseball stadiums for decades, returns to Louisville Slugger Field for the first time since 2011. Barefoot will also be hosting another wine tasting that evening.
Ted Power Bobblehead Night (vs. Indianapolis Indians, 6:05 p.m. Aug. 20)
For the team’s final bobblehead promotion of 2016, the first 2,000 fans will get to take home a bobblehead doll of Ted Power, a former Cincinnati Reds hurler who is now the Bats’ pitching coach.
Labor Day Eve Fireworks (vs. Indianapolis Indians, 6:05 p.m. Sept. 4)
The second-largest fireworks display of the season (surpassed only by Thunder Over Louisville) follows the game. All of the regular Sunday kids’ promotions will be in effect as well.
An everyday thing
Regular season-long promotions this season at Louisville Slugger field:
Sundays (except for July 3): Kids Eat Free (children 12 and younger receive a free hot dog, junior nachos and small soda); Kids Inflatable Fun Zone (for children 12 & younger, located inside air-conditioned Hall of Fame); Kids run bases after the game
Mondays: Margarita Mondays ($3 apiece); Meijer Mondays (fans can save $3 each on up to four tickets with a Meijer purchase receipt)
Tuesdays: $1 hot dogs and $1 Pepsi
Thursdays: Thirsty Thursdays ($1 beer from 5:30 to 7 p.m.)
Fridays: Postgame fireworks display
Movin’ on up
Who might you see in a Bats uniform this season? A look at the top prospects in the Reds organization, according to Baseball America:
Robert Stephenson, RHP, 6-2, 200 pounds, age 22
Stephenson will begin the season in Louisville but could be in Cincinnati before long. In eight games with the Bats last year, the Reds’ 2011 first-round pick was 4-4 and struck out 51 batters in 55 2/3 innings.
Cody Reed, LHP, 6-5, 220 pounds, age 22
Acquired from Kansas City in the Johnny Cueto trade, Reed could begin the season in Double-A Pensacola but should be in Louisville before long. He was 6-2 with a 2.17 ERA in eight Pensacola starts last season, fanning 60 and walking just 16 in 49 2/3 innings.
Jesse Winker, OF, 6-3, 210 pounds, age 22
Like Reed, Winker spent 2015 in Pensacola, but the talented outfielder is more likely to be in Kentucky this summer. In 123 Double-A games last year, Winker batted .282 with 13 home runs, 55 runs batted in an an OPS (on-base plus slugging) of .823.
Jose Peraza, SS/2B, 6-0, 180 pounds, age 21
The biggest return from the Todd Frazier trade, Peraza may still end up on the Reds’ opening-day roster. If not, he’ll end up in Louisville — but probably not for long.
Amir Garrett, LHP, 6-6, 215 pounds, age 23
A former Division I basketball player at St. John’s and Cal State Northridge, the hard-throwing Garrett represented the Reds in the 2015 Futures Game. He will begin the season in Pensacola but could make a stop in Louisville before long on the way to the big leagues.