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Official Review by Bradlee Ross, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
J.L. Johnson Stadium is the home of the Oral Roberts University Golden Eagles in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Golden Eagles are members of the Southland Conference. The park was opened on March 6, 1978 and has a seating capacity of 2,418 spectators. In 2008, a 20,000 square foot facility was added which includes offices for coaches, workout facilities for players and the Grand Slam Room which is an air-conditioned room where members can watch ORU games. The park has hosted three NCAA Regionals, 14 conference tournaments and many future major leaguers including Roger Clemens, Tony Gwynn and Kirk Gibson.
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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".
The concessions at J.L. Johnson Stadium unfortunately leave much to be desired. There is only one stand in the entire park, which would be fine if the demand for more was not there. The lines at this one stand were constantly backed up all the way to the wall lined with all of the condiments. That obviously made it difficult, not only to access the condiments, but also to get around the park in the first place. The food itself is pretty good. However, there is a complete lack of variety. You will find absolutely nothing at this park food-wise that you can't find at every other ballpark out there. So if you are satisfied with popcorn, hot dogs, pretzels and soft drinks (Pepsi products), this park will satisfy your stomach. However, if you are looking to experience anything out of the ordinary, you are out of luck.
Sports fans who thrive on venue atmosphere will be a bit disappointed with J.L. Johnson Stadium. The energy in the stands is lethargic. The fans did cheer but they often seemed disinterested and disengaged with the action on the field. PA announcer does little to help the crowd stay in the game, and the music between innings doesn't do much either.
This is definitely an experience that is catered toward families with children, and kids in little league uniforms are even allowed to run races around the bases between innings. Seating is pretty comfortable, but it is very old. That is a problem that the rest of the park has as well. It is in need of a renovation, but size-wise it is perfect for this type of school.
The area surrounding ORU's campus has a lot to offer in terms of things for visitors to do other than go to a ballgame. While there are not a whole lot of interesting attractions, there are plenty of eating and shopping areas nearby.
Most of these can be found just up on the road on 71st Street, which is the one street in Tulsa where you can find literally anything you could want. Woodland Hills Mall, along with tons of other stores and restaurants are littered up and down the street, offering you all kinds of choices. Chimi's Mexican Food, Elements Steakhouse and Grille and Zio's Italian Kitchen are some great food options that are even closer than that to ORU.
The best lodging option nearby is the Hampton Inn and Suites Tulsa Hills, which is rated by TripAdvisor as the best hotel in Tulsa and is located just a miles or so away from campus. The Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art is located on 71st Street and the River Spirit Casino is also a great entertainment option nearby.
ORU's campus itself is very beautiful, and it is obvious that the school has put much time and money into making it that way. When you drive on campus and toward the baseball park, you will be surrounded by green grass, trees, and fountains.
The fans there were pretty spirited. The stands were less than half full, but the crowd itself was loud for its size. The visiting contingent of fans often times overshadowed the home crowd quite a bit. Those Golden Eagle fans tended to be hit or miss in terms of their vocal support of the team. When they were hitting they were very loud, but when they missed things were pretty dead.
The best group of fans by far were the visiting little leaguers who had come in their uniforms. About 80 percent of the fans there were families and children, and the environment is a very good one for that.
J.L. Johnson has plenty of parking, and it will not be hard for any visitors to find close parking for free. The ORU campus is a bit difficult to navigate, however. If one enters the campus from certain roads or entrances, it can be very difficult to find your way over to the baseball facility.
On the other hand, the area of Tulsa that ORU is located in is extremely easy to navigate. It is located at the cross section of some of the most traveled streets, which could cause some traffic issues at certain times of the day. The walkways and ramps are big enough to support the crowds for the most part. The bathrooms are fine, but they are pretty old. While they were not dirty per se, they definitely could have been a bit cleaner.
Despite many of the negatives about this venue, the return on one's investment is still not bad when you consider the cost of the tickets. At their cheapest, tickets can be had for any regular season game for about $4 each. J.L. Johnson Stadium is also the only college baseball option in the Tulsa area and would be good for anyone who is looking for an affordable sporting event for the family.
One extra point goes to this venue for the experience they gave the visiting little leaguers in between innings. It is clear that this park is going for the family experience, and letting the little leaguers play on the field gives them a memory that will make them want to return.
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