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Official Review by Paul Derrick, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
When most people think about Harlingen, Texas they think of the close proximity to the spring break haven of South Padre Island. This is definitely accurate, but Harlingen also provides a decent location to see America's pastime. The Rio Grande Valley WhiteWings have called Harlingen Field home, off and on again for over 15 years now. The WhiteWings are now an independent league team as a member of the ever-so-complicated North American League. The WhiteWings definitely provide a decent atmosphere, just make sure that when you do visit, don't forget the sun screen.
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".
There are no real specialties here, as the WhiteWings offer exactly what you would expect from any professional park. Peanuts, pretzels, hamburgers and hot dogs are all available at reasonable prices. The WhiteWings also offer a variety of soda and alcoholic beverage options. The only interesting variety of food options I noticed were frito pies and takis, which are fried tortillas and the kids seemed to love them. Overall, there is nothing really special to write about here.
I didn't really feel a big baseball atmosphere at Harlingen Field. To me it was more of an entertainment feel. With plenty of mid-inning games and things to keep the kids entertained, I felt there may have been a lack of thought for the actual fan of the game of baseball. Overall it is not a bad atmosphere, it just leaves quite a bit to be desired, and made me feel as if at times they were worried more about entertaining than baseball.
In the city of Harlingen, I didn't find an abundance of things to do or great places to eat. Harlingen is about thirty minutes from the Mexican border so you will find a Mexican restaurant on just about every corner. One of them that I did stop into was Los Asados which provided great authentic Mexican food. A neat tidbit of information about Harlingen is that it was rated the cheapest place in the United States to live; with gas, food and entertainment prices well below the national average.
Some other places that might peak a visitor's interest include the Harlingen Art forum, or if you're a big time cat lover, the International Cat Association. It is a registry of pedigreed and household pet cats worldwide. It is also the organizing body for cat shows in over two dozen countries.
If you're in Harlingen and have an itch to gamble, then hit up Valley Race Park which is a greyhound race park. It's actually the first ever greyhound track in Texas to accept wagering.
If none of these options peak your interest, then Mexico is just thirty minutes away and the college coed premiere spot, South Padre Island, is just an hour east. Overall, Harlingen doesn't provide a whole lot besides some intense heat in the summer.
The fans in attendance are pretty much split right down the middle. There are the ones there for the entertainment, and the ones there to see some good baseball. Luckily there are enough of the diehard baseball fans to warrant an average score. I did see some scorekeeping and heard a couple of fans engaged in some good old baseball chatter, but I would definitely like to have seen more. These fans aren't rowdy but aren't sitting ducks either, as they are about what you would expect for independent league baseball.
Access to Harlingen Field is about as easy as it gets. Located just off Highway 77, it is pretty difficult to miss. Parking is free, which is always a major plus in my book, especially in independent league baseball where I have seen a variety of different prices. The concourses at Harlingen Field are wide enough to provide easy movement around the park. I would have liked to have seen at least some shaded spots around the field though, as Harlingen on average is in the mid 90s all summer long, which can provide a brutal atmosphere for watching the game.
Tickets range anywhere from $6 for reserved seats to $8 for box seats, which I found to be a fair enough price for viewing a game at Harlingen Field. I would definitely make sure to check out the promotions before you go, as the WhiteWings provide a vast assortment of promotions. They provide everything from buy one hotdog and soda get one hotdog and soda free, to every Friday they give away one roundtrip ticket to Los Angeles, Las Vegas or Phoenix to one lucky fan. With smaller crowds, your odds aren't that bad on Fridays for the free tickets. Overall the WhiteWings provide a decent baseball environment, so if you're in the area it's worth a stop.
The WhiteWings don't provide that many extras. The only extra I really found worth mentioning was the mascot WildWing who is great with the kids, and I found him/it to be quite entertaining between innings.
Member Review by megminard on Jul 28, 2011
I got lost trying to find the stadium.
'Family Health Specialists' bought all the game I attended tickets and provided them to the fans for free.
I enjoyed my visit to Harlingen Field. It's not a 'fancy' stadium nor does it have the bells and whistles of the newer parks. Nor was there music played at every single moment and when it was played, it was at an acceptable level. I liked that. It was about baseball and the baseball game and not about what other entertainment there is in the facility.
Yup, definitely a different experience than the author.
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