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Official Review by Bradlee Ross, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The Big 12 Conference Baseball Tournament first began in 1997. Oklahoma City hosted the 2012 tournament at the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, and has done so in all but two seasons since 1997.
Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark opened in 1998 and is the home of the Oklahoma City Redhawks, AAA affiliate of the Houston Astros. The park has a capacity of 13,066.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark has a very good selection of food choices. While your typical concession foods are readily available at many different places throughout the park, there is also a Salsa place that had some really great stuff and pizza. Coach's restaurant is also there at one end of the ballpark.
While the variety was great, the quality of the food was even better. Everything tasted good, and was extremely fresh. There was no beer being sold though, since it was a college event.
This park had a really fun and enjoyable atmosphere. The crowd was very loud and involved, and there was plenty during the breaks between innings to keep people invested in the experience. There were also plenty of places to buy team merchandise, both for the Redhawks and the Big 12 teams participating in the tournament. Another good thing the park had was a nearby ATM in case any fans forgot to bring cash.
Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark is right in the middle of Bricktown (obviously), and as a result, has a lot of great stuff to do nearby. The Chesapeake Energy Arena is the nearby home of the NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder and the Cox Convention Center is also in the vicinity as the home of the AHL's Oklahoma City Barons. As you can probably tell, Bricktown has everything nearby one could ask for as far as sports go.
Other nearby attractions include The National Cowboy and Western Museum, the Myriad Botanical Gardens, the Harkins Theatre and the Downtown Library. There are also plenty of great places to eat and hang out like the Bricktown Brewery and Bourbon Street Café.
The turnout of fans was particularly good, especially in relation to that of some of the other conference tournaments going on around the country. The park was probably at 2/3 capacity most of the time.
The fans were also very loud and involved. It was very nice to see such an involved crowd be so respectful. I did not hear anything inappropriate or really even any taunting of an opponent. It was a great crowd.
There is plenty of paid parking nearby for these types of events, and it will cost you $10-$15 before the game starts. Most of it drops down to $5 after the event starts. I was able to find free parking for myself, but you'll have to be very diligent to do so.
Seating is pretty comfortable here. Chairback seats are crammed together, but the bleacher seating is the most spacious I've ever seen in any venue in any sport. It was really awesome to not have to worry about bumping the person next to you every time you needed to move. The walkways and restrooms were adequate as well.
The return on this venue is very good. Tickets ranged from $20-$40, which is a bit high. However, the experience is top notch. There are no significant drawbacks to this venue whatsoever.
The busts of the great Oklahoma-natives outside the ballpark is worth an extra point. Also, an extra point to the Bricktown neighborhood, which is one of the best sports neighborhoods in the United States. Finally, an extra point to the Big 12 Conference itself. Despite the seemingly constant struggle of teams defecting or joining the conference, they managed to put on a wonderful event.
If you ever find yourself in the Oklahoma City area during the Big 12 baseball tournament and you call yourself a baseball fan, you would be doing yourself an injustice by not going out to Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark for at least one game. Even that may not be enough. Look ahead to next year and make plans to attend this wonderful college baseball tournament.
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