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Official Review by Bradlee Ross, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Owned by Oklahoma City Public Schools, Taft Stadium was built in 1934 as part of the New Deals programs introduced by Franklin Delano Roosevelt to combat the Great Depression. Its capacity was around 18,000 up until 2013, when renovations reduced the capacity to around 7,500.
In addition to the OKC Energy of the USL (United Soccer League), Taft Stadium also hosts Northwest Classen High School and John Marshall High School teams. It has also played host to various other professional and semi-professional teams in the past, including the Oklahoma City Plainsmen of the Continental Football League in the 1960s. Oklahoma City Public Schools granted a lease on the stadium to Pro Soccer, LLC in 2013, and the Energy began playing there in 2015.
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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".
Food options in Taft Stadium are not as varied in larger venues, but there is more offered here than one might suspect at first glance. There are two primary concession stands on each side of the stadium. These stands have the basics along with a few specialties that you will not find anywhere else. The prices here are reasonable, especially for the typical concession stand fare; specialty items cost extra.
There are also a couple of food trucks at the north end of the stadium. One sells sno-cones, another Modelo beer. There is also one Mob Grill truck that sells the grilled items you'd find at any sporting event. A popsicle stand and a Minute Maid Frozen Lemonade stand are a fan's only real options for any kind of dessert.
The one food item you cannot miss is the Free Kick Nachos, which consist of BBQ pork, jalapeno, shredded cheese and diced red onion over chips. Pair it off with a beer and you're good to go.
Taft Stadium has one of the most unique atmospheres you'll find in Oklahoma. While it does appear catered to families, there is a large element of young adults as well. There's a video screen at one end of the field that is easily seen, though the only scoreboard. The PA system plays some music, but it doesn't really have any affect. There's a lot of activity, both toward the action on the field and aside from it, but it is somewhat chaotic. It has the same sort of feel as high school football games do in the area.
There's very little close to Taft Stadium that will get any prospective fan excited. The only food place within walking distance is a Taco Bell, and the neighborhood near Taft is not the safest in the Oklahoma City area (though certainly not the most dangerous either). A few other establishments fairly close by (within a few miles) are a Wendy's, Patty Wagon Drive-In Restaurant and a public indoor karting place called Pole Position Raceway.
For a much better neighborhood experience, make the drive to the Bricktown section of OKC, where you'll find all kinds of restaurants, museums and further attractions. But to get there, you will have to drive 6 or 7 miles.
The fans are made up of mostly young families and young adults. The stadium is usually at least three-quarters full. Most of the crowd is disinterested in the action on the field, but there is a hardcore fan section on one side of the stadium. However, this loudest section (which can be heard from any part of the stadium) is also extremely profane and is not a place where a fan with children will want to be. The rest of the crowd is loud at times, but very inconsistent. There also are many seemingly unaccompanied children running around during the matches.
The bathrooms are clear and spacious, which may surprise some given that the venue is over 80 years old. It is basically a large high school football stadium with bleacher seating only, no chair backs. The seating is pretty uncomfortable.
It is fairly easy to get around, and one can walk under the stands which provides even more space for the crowds. There is also an old concrete track that runs around the field, which fans can walk around on to the other side of the stadium. Parking is extremely tough to find. The closer parking appears to be available for season ticket holders only. Free parking can be found, but be prepared for quite a walk.
Tickets to OKC Energy games are not expensive for most fans, and this is the only option for soccer fans in the OKC area. So in that sense, it is a decent return on the price. However, the Energy cannot escape comparison with their rivals to the north, the Tulsa Roughnecks, whose stadium experience outshines them in every way. All in all, going to see the OKC Energy at Taft Stadium provides a mediocre return on the ticket price, even considering the low cost of a ticket.
There's not much at this venue that you can't find elsewhere. One extra point for the face painting stand at the north end of the stadium.
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2905 NW 36th St
Oklahoma City, OK 73112
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