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Official Review by Paul Donaldson, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Since West Texas is known as a hotbed for high school and college football, baseball doesn’t get quite the same level of hype, but the area residents are just as passionate about the sport. Fans, alums, and students show their passion for Red Raider baseball at the beautiful Dan Law Field at Rip Griffin Park on the campus of Texas Tech University. The history of Texas Tech baseball at the current ballpark site dates back to 1926. In 1988, donations allowed for renovations to the park including the addition of lights and a new name of Dan Law Field. Significant upgrades took place with a $5 million donation just prior to the 2012 season which included a new press box and 10 luxury suites as well as 1,154 chairback seats behind home plate. One of the more unique features of “The Law” is the hybrid field-turf playing surface with includes dirt around the home plate and leading up to each base in the infield. Rip Griffin Park was 21st nationwide in Division I attendance in 2012 and features a strong showing of fan support each season.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The concession items at Rip Griffin Park include your standard ballpark fare but at a substantial price. Primary options include a regular hot dog ($5), foot-long hot dog ($8), and nachos with chips and salsa ($6). Snack items include peanuts ($4), assorted candy ($4), pretzels ($4), pickles ($4), and sunflower seeds ($4). To ask someone to pay $4 for a bag of candy or sunflower seeds is borderline robbery. The drink options are Coca-Cola products and range from $5 - $6. Dasani bottled water is available for $4 and coffee/hot chocolate (when available) runs at $3.
The combination of an extremely passionate fanbase and a beautiful ballpark creates a special atmosphere for Red Raider baseball at the Rip. It's simply a great place to catch a baseball game. The recent renovations were very fan friendly including additional chairback seats behind homeplate which are complimented by partial covering. No doubt the West Texas heat can beat down on you as spring turns to summer towards the end of the college baseball season. That's exactly when the partial covering transforms from an extra benefit to god-sent. The architecture of the facility from outside to within is really sharp. The stunning architecture of the surrounding Texas Tech University campus can be seen beyond the outfield and foul line walls. One of my favorite spots to sit is down the first baseline in the bleacher seats where Jones AT&T Stadium is in view (recommended when the temperature isn't unbearably hot).
Part of a trend of sorts in college baseball, the playing surface at Dan Law Field is artificial. Field Turf was installed throughout the entire field in 2007 and though it's certainly a clean look, the purist in me knows baseball is meant to be played on real grass. Granted, keeping a great lawn in West Texas is no easy feet (cue tumble-weed rolling by), so the Dan Law Field certainly is justified in their decision. What's somewhat unique about their surface is the inclusion of dirt paths around homeplate and in the baseline areas within the sliding zones.
The massive video display within the scoreboard is a bonus at the ballpark. The 15' X 20' LED display was installed in 2004 and adds the capability of instant replay and video entertainment to the overall atmosphere.
Texas Tech baseball does a great job with promotions and spirit groups. A large part of what makes college athletics special is the passionate student support, mascot interaction, and spirit teams. Across the college baseball landscape, this element is often left out. At Rip Griffin Park, however, expect to see a plethora of on the field promotions as well as the Saddle Tramps engaging fans in chants and cheers. Down the first baseline you'll notice Bangin Bertha, the famous bell which makes appearances at both football and baseball games and rings after Texas Tech scores.
If you love college towns, Lubbock is your Mecca. As you pass through tumble-weeds, wind turbines, and the sparse lands of West Texas on your way to Lubbock, you may begin to feel as though you've left civilization all together. Once you make it to Lubbock, however, great times await. The area bleeds red and black for its economic and cultural engine, Texas Tech University.
One Guy from Italy is a perfect example of the college town atmosphere. Located just off the campus, One Guy serves up greasy calzones to an at-capacity student crowd. If you're looking for some great college night-life, be sure to check out the Depot District while in town. In an area lined with bars and restaurants, make sure to keep an eye out for Louie Louie's Piano Bar. An absolute must stop while in Lubbock is the Triple J Chophouse and Brew Company. The prime rib just might be the best you can find and a glass of their homemade Red Raider Brew goes great alongside. West Texas does both barbecue and Tex-Mex well. With that said, Abuelo's is a great stop for Tex-Mex and Rudy's (a Texas staple) has some of the best Texas barbecue around.
Outside of restaurants and nightlife, the area is a bit short on attractions. A few fun stops you may want to consider are the American Wind Power Center, the West Texas Walk of Fame, and the Silent Wings Museum.
For the past decade plus, Texas Tech baseball at the Rip has boasted one of the higher average attendance figures in the NCAA. In 2012, the Rip ranked 21st nationally. Texas Tech fans are no doubt some of the most passionate and loyal in college athletics. It's refreshing to see so many baseball fans join in on chants and cheers led by the Saddle Tramps. College baseball crowds can tend to be a much more laid-back and quiet bunch than other sports like football and basketball, but Tech baseball fans are pretty energetic.
If you're flying into town, Southwest Airlines has a good number of flights that usually connect in to Lubbock Present Smith International Airport from Dallas or Albuquerque. You'll make your way to the Rip traveling down I-27 to Highway 82. The campus and ballpark will be just off 82. Free parking is available outside the stadium.
As you walk up, you might find yourself in a bit of a ticket line. Once you've grabbed your ticket, the path through the entrance gates is pretty painless. There are a few tight spots in the concourse under the seating areas. For at capacity crowds, it can definitely get a bit crunched. Once you get up to the seating area, the aisles and walkways are pretty comfortable and allow for easy movement. Restroom facilities are adequate. The main concession stand is behind homeplate and under the chairback seating. For larger crowds, an alternate concession stand is available under the first baseline seats which helps to move lines along pretty quickly.
Ticket prices for Texas Tech baseball can range from $5 to $17 depending on the seat location and day of the week. If you're grabbing a mid-week game (Monday-Wednesday), bleacher seats are low $5. Though crowds are certainly smaller during the weekdays, you can't beat $5 for the overall experience. Weekend series bleacher seats jump up to $10, but that's still a very fair price for great Big 12 baseball action. For some of the higher profile matchups, like the new rivalry with TCU, pricing may vary. Tech also offers a pretty great 4-pack deal which allows a family of four to gain admission for $15 for weekday games and $20 for weekend series. My biggest negative note on ROI is the high cost for concessions. As you make your way around major college athletics facilities, high concession prices are to be expected. However, you shouldn't have to fork over $5-$8 for a simple hot dog on a bun or $4 for a bag of candy. As mentioned, parking is free around the ballpark. Considering the overall experience, the ROI is pretty high for Tech baseball at the Rip. If you catch a weekday game and skip the concessions, you'll only be out $5 for premier Division I baseball action. Hard to beat that.
Every great live sports experience is highlighted by certain 'extra' features which are unique compared to other venues or make the overall experience memorable. For a Red Raider baseball game at Rip Griffin Park, be sure to consider the following during your stadium experience:
• Having the Saddle Tramps attend games and engage the crowd is refreshing. As mentioned, too many baseball programs skimp on the fan engagement and promotions. It's great to see baseball fans get out of their seats and chant along even when the team hasn't just scored.
• The Texas Tech University campus architecture is pretty amazing. I'd recommend setting aside some time to walk the campus and take in the sights.
• The Depot District is definitely a plus. Lot's of great nightlife options here.
• The prime rib and locally brewed Raider Red at Triple J's is a must stop while in Lubbock.
• The price for a mid-week game is definitely a plus. If you can catch a quality opponent, you're looking at $5 for one of the better experiences in college baseball.
Member Review by Baseball Buddha on Apr 17, 2014
The Campus was impressive, the sports facilities were also impressive, however I was not impressed with the baseball stadium at all, it seemed like they remodeled the thing on a budget, it doesn't work with the existing architecture. They worked with the existing dugouts which looked very cool but with the remainder of the stadium built around it seem goofy, they didn't mix the old with the new very well! They also had the artificial field that I despise! I know it makes it easier to maintain but it looks odd and makes all the fielding plays routine. If this stadium was built new and not remodeled on an existing site, I might be okay with it for a college summer league team in the Northwood's League, but on this campus with all the Spanish Renaissance styling's, it stands out like a sore thumb!
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