Lexington Legends baseball team gathering input from fans


Workers install a synthetic turf field at the recently renamed Wild Health Field in Lexington last April. In addition to the turf, the ballpark underwent several enhancements last offseason including a new video board and new LED signage boards.

Workers install a synthetic turf field at the recently renamed Wild Health Field in Lexington last April. In addition to the turf, the ballpark underwent several enhancements last offseason including a new video board and new LED signage boards.

rhermens@herald-leader.com

If you’re a fan of minor league baseball in Lexington — or even if you’re not — you’ve come to expect change down on North Broadway in recent years.

The team’s newly announced owners — Nathan and Keri Lyons — are excited to hear what their new community thinks change needs to look like going forward, and have schedule a series of public listening sessions in the weeks ahead to do so.

The Legends entered Lexington’s sports scene in 2001 as a Class A affiliate of Major League Baseball’s Houston Astros, playing in a newly built ballpark and performing in the South Atlantic League against franchises that had been in existence since the early 1900s.

Though the team underwent an ownership change, an affiliate alteration and a couple of ballpark title sponsors, the Legends pluckily entertained Central Kentuckians in search of summer entertainment without much incident. There was the Roger Clemens appearance in 2006 and the time a rival manager’s in-game tirade made national headlines when he tried to throw second base into the outfield but, like most minor league teams, you host low-priced beer nights, shoot a guy out of a cannon once in a while and everyone has a great time at the ballpark.

Recent seasons have been more up and down.

The Legends won the South Atlantic League in both 2018 and 2019. Then came nothing but turmoil.

In April 2020, reports surfaced that Major League Baseball was seeking to trim its number of affiliates from 160 to 120 and that Lexington would be among the 40 franchises let go. Not long after, the 2020 minor league baseball season was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In December of that year, Lexington officially lost its affiliation with the Kansas City Royals. Forced into independent ball, the Legends turned to the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball and fielded a team of mostly veteran players looking for second chances as opposed to its previous lineups of rookies and future major league stars. The Legends won the league in their first season in 2021.

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Nashville real estate developer Nathan Lyons and his family purchased the Lexington Legends in October. Photo Submitted

Then came more change. In 2022, Lexington fielded two minor league teams in the ALPB — the Legends and the new Kentucky Wild Health Genomes — renovated Whitaker Bank Ballpark with a new synthetic turf playing surface and renamed it Wild Health Field.

And finally, last month, the Shea family, the longtime owners of the club, sold the franchise to a couple from Nashville promising ambitious plans for the team, the ballpark and baseball in Lexington.

The Lyons’ listening sessions are designed to seek public input about how the Legends team, ballpark and overall fan experience can be improved upon for future seasons.

“As a lifelong baseball fan, I have a deep respect for the sport and its tradition,” Nathan Lyons said. “When considering the future of the Lexington Legends, it’s important that we continue to honor our team’s own tradition, while also ensuring that the voices and desires of the Lexington community are heard. To achieve this, we intend to draw heavily on our listening sessions and survey.”

Listening sessions will be held virtually and in person, and anyone unable to attend one is invited to share their thoughts through a public survey online.

Lexington Legends community listening sessions

Thursday, Dec. 1

Virtual: 6-7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Dec. 6

Virtual: Noon-1:30 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 10

In-person: 2-3:30 p.m. at Wild Health Field





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