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Official Review by Paul Derrick, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The Texas Rangers Triple-A affiliate Round Rock Express can be found just 15 miles northeast of Austin on I-35, in the growing community of Round Rock. Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan and his son Reid, are part owners of the Express and the lead dogs behind this franchise. The Dell Diamond seats almost 8,700 people with room for 3,000 additional fans on an outfield grass berm area. The ballpark has about 30 private suites, a swimming pool, hot tub, basketball court and playscape among a plethora of other amenities.
Beginning the 2011 season, the Round Rock Express did, indeed, switch affiliations and are now the Triple-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers.
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".
This is one of the few things I have to complain about Dell Diamond. Dell Diamond doesn't have a lot of variety when it comes to concessions and the food they do have is really not up to par. The prices are closer to major league prices than minor league, and you're not getting major league caliber food. One thing I do recommend if you have a big appetite is the Nolan Ryan Grill along the first base line. There you can get a fresh steak or burger cooked to your liking, but I can tell you doesn't come cheap. Overall nothing to brag about when it comes to concessions at this ballpark. My advice would be to head over to Salt Lick BBQ right across from the stadium before the game for a lot better food and at reasonable prices.
The atmosphere is absolutely amazing here, since Austin is the biggest city in the United States without a professional sports team (A little fun fact for everyone), fans routinely make their way from Austin to catch Round Rock games. This flow makes for high routine attendance and a great atmosphere for minor league baseball.
You will have a smile on your face from the time you walk into the stadium, and are greeted by the stadium staff, who make sure to welcome you to Dell Diamond. Once in the stadium, make sure to stroll around and take in the mass amount of extras at the ballpark from the pool in centerfield to the rock wall and basketball courts for the kiddos. You can also check out the many banners of past Round Rock players such as Roy Oswalt and Roger Clemens. If you feel like just laying back, grab a beer and kick back in the lawn area in the outfield with some of the Express locals.
This is another downfall to this ballpark, it is out in absolute nowhere. The ballpark is not even located in the main part of Round Rock, its more toward the outskirts of town. The plus side is Austin is just a short little drive south and has something for just about everybody. So if you plan on partying it up before or after the game I'd say save the headaches and take the trip down to Austin.
If you are going to hang around Round Rock don't miss award winning Salt Lick BBQ right across the street. They have a wide variety of BBQ dishes from combination plates to my favorite, the chopped beef sandwich. Their prices are quite reasonable too.
There was a near sold out crowd when I visited Round Rock and in talking with management this is typical at the ballpark. The fans were totally into the game cheering on the home team even though they were on the wrong end of a blowout. Any fan of the Astros will know that their farm system is definitely not the strongest in the majors.
The fans will hopefully have something to cheer for soon though as this is the last contract year between Round Rock and the Astros and since Nolan Ryan is part owner of the team and has a high stake in the management of the Texas Rangers now there is talk of the Rangers Triple A team relocating to Round Rock. The fans will clearly have something to cheer for then as the Rangers boast one of the strongest farm systems in baseball.
Walking around the stadium I saw plenty of fans keeping scorecards and talking with some of the fans they were very knowledgeable about baseball and the Astros farm system.
Once you get to the stadium it's not hard to find parking, which costs $5. The only problem, is finding the stadium. It is on the outskirts of Round Rock and can be a pain to find if you're not absolutely sure where you're going. Even my TomTom wasn't a big fan of finding the ballpark and tried to send me in the wrong direction.
Bathrooms are easily available and for the stadium to be full I was surprised not to see a line. There was something I did not care for. To accommodate additional concession stands, they were built perpendicular to the concourse in eight mini-buildings. But the design is such that the concourse isn't wide enough for all the foot traffic it draws, so it can be a headache if you're carrying a handful of edible goodies.
I loved Dell Diamond. It's one of the nicest minor league ballparks in the United States and has received a multitude of awards. With generally good sight lines from any seat, and reasonable ticket prices, you can't really beat what Round Rock has to offer. If your ever in the Texas area, especially around Austin, I encourage you to head north and check out a game at the Dell Diamond. It has a little of everything for every baseball fan, truly is a diamond in the rough.
Have to give some extra points for the swimming pool in the outfield as well as the huge
kids area with tons of things to keep the kids entertained.
Overall I felt Dell Diamond had something for everyone, and even if you're not a big baseball fan I feel you will leave with a smile on your face.
Member Review by Michael23Georgetown on Apr 05, 2013
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521 South IH-35
Round Rock, TX 78664