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Official Review by Michael Davis, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Joan & Andy Horner Ballpark is home to the Dallas Baptist University baseball team located in Dallas, Texas. The ballpark was designed by the well known architecture firm, HKS, with the architectural theme of the campus, a Georgian-style facade of dark red brick. The ballpark has a seating capacity of 2,000 and opened on February 15, 2013.
Dallas Baptist University became a member of the Missouri Valley Conference in 2014 after previously being a member of the Western Athletic Conference. Horner Ballpark was selected as a regional tournament host site in 2015.
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 two concessions stands inside Horner Ballpark, one on each side of the baselines that provide basic food and beverage. Although limited in selection, the concessions make up in price compared to the normal cost at other sporting venues. The highest cost food item is the Patriot nachos loaded with chili or chopped beef for $5.25. Besides the Sadler's chopped beef sandwich at $4.75, the others range from the $2 popcorn, candy or peanuts to the $3-$4 range for hot dog, chili cheese dog, sausage wrap, nachos, and pretzel.
The beverages consist of Coca-Cola fountain products, a 20oz soda cost is $2.75 while the 32oz souvenir cup is the more economic choice at $3.75. Dasani bottled water is the lowest beverage at $2.50. Alcohol is not sold inside the ballpark.
If you are hungry and just looking to get by until after the game then the concessions are a perfect idea, as the chopped beef sandwich and water, will cost just over $7.25.
Dallas Baptist University sponsors 15 intercollegiate athletic teams, however, baseball is the only sport that competes on the Division 1 level. The majority of baseball games during the season are held on the weekends with a single game during the week. The ballpark contains four guest suites available for rental with each having audio broadcast available, a pavilion down the left field line for large groups, and party plazas along both sides of the concourse available for medium sized gatherings.
Horner Ballpark has an Astroturf infield with only the pitcher's mound having real dirt. The dimensions of the playing field are 330 feet down the lines and 390 feet to straight away center. The home team's bullpen is behind the left center field fence that you can see through, while the visitor's bullpen is located in the corner of right field since the visitors use the first base side dugout. The scoreboard in right field is basic with no video replays and has the old name of Patriot Field across the top. There is a small apparel shop called the Patriot Locker next to the main entrance.
The 7th inning stretch is the always "Take Me Out to The Ballgame" with an additional playing of a Texas favorite, "Cotton Eye, Joe." The most interesting item is the canon on top of the hill behind the DBU bullpen. The cannon is fired after a home team's home run while The Regiment, a group of 5 Cannoneers are in charge of protecting and executing the Order of the Cannon. This shows the spirit of the university namesake and legacy of the American Patriot.
Dallas Baptist University is located 12 miles southwest from downtown Dallas near the DFW National Cemetery and overlooking Mountain Creek Lake. The campus is within the City of Dallas limits but the closest activities for food and lodging are in the cities of Grand Prairie and Duncanville. Grand Prairie is located just across Mountain Creek Lake via the toll bridge. Duncanville is situated just south of the campus off Interstate 20.
The ballpark is located on campus so there isn't much if you are looking for food or lodging. Outlaw's BBQ is about 4 miles across the lake in Grand Prairie just to the right off Beltline. There are more fast food restaurants if you continue west on Pioneer Parkway in Grand Prairie. Although there isn't much around the campus, the campus is part of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex which opens up an unlimited amount of restaurants, lodging, and attractions. Some of the attractions are John F. Kennedy - the Sixth Floor Museum, Dallas World Aquarium, and Perot Museum.
Dallas Baptist University is a Christian liberal arts university with 3,400 undergraduates, so the majority of fans are students and relatives. The fans typically wear DBU sporting apparel and their support is genuine. The schedule is competitive, so fans from TCU, Oklahoma State, and Oklahoma do fill the stands on the visitor side so the ballpark doesn't fill empty.
The ballpark is located on the Dallas Baptist University campus in a secluded area on the back side of the campus through the student housing. There are two interstates that can be used to reach the campus. From the south, use Interstate 20 and take Mountain Creek Parkway. From the north, take Interstate 30 to the Loop 12 then to Mountain Creek Parkway. The main entrance to the campus is on Mountain Creek Parkway, however, the easiest access to the ballpark is off W. Kiest Blvd / Spur 303 as you will avoid having to drive through the hilly campus. This can be done by using the Mountain Creek Parkway or Loop 12 and Spur 408 (from Interstate 20) to the W. Kiest Blvd exit. The first road on the right after The Potter House will lead to the ballpark.
Once on campus, the parking is free but space is limited within the athletic area of campus, but you should be able to find a spot. The ballpark has the possibility of more than one entrance but the main entrance is guaranteed and is next to the ticket office. As you walk through the main entrance both sides of the walls have DBU players that went on to a professional career, the ceiling has a DBU logo with a baseball stitching imprint. The concourses and section portals are narrow but acceptable with the crowds. There is only one concourse and all of the seating will be below it. At the end of the concourse there are stairs that take you to the general admission area, the Patriot Yard in right field, or left field. The general admission area is great if you want to get close to the action but it has no netting so watching the game is imperative to avoid being hurt.
Single game tickets prices for reserved seating are $7 while general admission is $5. The return on investment to see a baseball program that has been one of the top programs in the country over the last five years along with free parking and reasonably low concessions is very high and is recommended if you love baseball or just want a fun filled day.
An extra point is awarded for the historical information at the stadium listing former Patriots which have gone onto the professional baseball ranks.
Another for the canon on top of the hill behind the DBU bullpen and the military statues near the entrance.
The stoppage of play while TAPS was being played at the nearby Dallas National Cemetery.
The relatively low cost concessions.
Overall, the ballpark is a diamond in the rough for the local DFW area baseball fan. The experience provides top notch Division 1 baseball in a quiet setting without large crowds, expensive tickets or concessions. There is so much to do in the DFW area that an out of town sports traveler may not have the time to pick up a game at Horner Ballpark, however, if you make the time, you'll find baseball being played at its purist.
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