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Official Review by Sean MacDonald, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
The Texas Longhorns are the most successful team in college baseball, having amassed a .740 win percentage in their 115 seasons. So it only makes sense that they would also have one of the top college baseball venues, University Federal Credit Union Disch-Falk Field. This may also be the wordiest name of any stadium, fortunately though, the abbreviation UFCU is usually applied.
Located on the southeast quadrant of the campus, the ballpark was opened in 1975 and named for two Longhorn coaches, Billy Disch and Bibb Falk, who might be more famous for replacing Joe Jackson in right field after the 1919 Black Sox scandal. The UFCU sponsorship began in 2006, and the stadium underwent comprehensive renovations between then and 2009. Among the new features were the installation of FieldTurf and a new façade. These changes have left Disch-Falk Field in nearly perfect condition and make it an absolute joy to visit.
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".
Food options here are superb for college ball. Within the concourse there are sausage wraps for $5, chili cheese dogs for $4.50, and Frito pies for $4. Soft drinks range from $4.50 for a 24-ounce soda to $6 for 44 ounces. However, you are advised to avoid these concessions and make your way to the left field patio, where the real food is located. There are three quality stands here, including BBQ sandwiches for $6 and street tacos for $4. I had a sliced turkey BBQ sandwich which was quite good and I saw other people chowing down on freshly grilled hamburgers that looked quite juicy. There is even an ice cream stand selling ready-made cones for just $2.50.
There are no alcohol sales, while bottled soda is $4.50 and bottled water is $3.50.
I attended a game during the first weekend of the season in mid-February, 2013. The temperature was about 65F with a cloudless sky. Right there is your five points, a perfect score for the perfect spring baseball weather that is all one needs to shake off the winter blues.
Beyond that though, the rest of the experience was flawless. There was some music before the game and they played a number of Texas songs between innings that kept the fans going. There wasn't any of the promotional noise that often mars minor-league contests; instead it was just nine innings of heaven.
Austin is one of America's unsung cities, ranking 13th in the nation in terms of total population, more than San Francisco as an example. The difference of course is that Austin doesn't have a significantly larger metro area from which to draw. As the state capital, the city has dozens of tourist sites, including the stunning Capitol just a mile away from the ballpark.
Downtown Austin is also a cool spot, with bars and eateries dotting the streets. Add in the SXSW festival in mid-March and you can combine your visit to the ballpark with one of the top arts destinations of the year.
The ballpark is just a little far from the main downtown area. It is walkable but not recommended as it isn't particularly pleasant. This is a minor quibble though, and otherwise this is a great spot to spend a few days.
The Longhorns have a great fan base, averaging over 6,300 in 2012, good for 5th in the nation. Such strong support requires the ballpark to be built more like an AA stadium than a typical college ballpark. The fans are serious and knowledgeable. I was about the only person without some sort of Longhorn paraphernalia on, and I was also the only person who did not know the words to "The Eyes of Texas" which is sung before and after the game with the players, who stand in front of their dugout making the Longhorn sign as do the fans.
Parking is $5 and there are a couple of lots right by the ballpark, but it looked tough to get out after the game. I avoided this by leaving my car in the Capitol Visitors garage. I wouldn't recommend this approach though, as the walk is a bit far and you have to cross over I-35 with its on and off ramps to MLK Boulevard. There are sidewalks and pedestrian crossing lights the whole way, but it might be easier to just park closer to campus.
Once inside the ballpark, you will find the concourse more than spacious enough and the seating bowl is very well designed as well with no issues getting to seats or moving between sections.
Tickets are $12 for reserved seats which are all located above the small walkway. Those below the walkway didn't seem to be available at the box office. General admission is $7 which limits you to the concrete steps down the left field line, although I never saw an usher checking tickets. Still, with 90% of seats filled on an average night, it isn't worth getting kicked out of a seat to save $5.
Most of the seating bowl is covered by a large roof, which is critical during the hot Texas afternoons. The sun generally moves behind home plate and shadows extend out from home plate to the mound and beyond as the game progresses (assuming it is an afternoon game of course). One interesting fact is that the left field line runs almost due north and the right field line runs almost due east.
There's a typical scoreboard behind left field and an excellent video board behind right field that shows replays and has batting lineups and updated stats. Fences are 340 down left field, 325 down right, 375 to the alleys and 400 to center.
With the cost of food and parking included, you are looking at about $30 for the afternoon, not bad for the quality of entertainment you receive, but just enough to cost the ROI a point.
The inside concourse has a few items of note. First, there are posters of past stars such as Keith Moreland. Against one wall you will find plaques commemorating past coaches (there have only been four since 1911).
Below the press box are retired numbers, including that of Roger Clemens who pitched here in 1982-83.
Note the championship banners along one outer wall of the stadium; Texas baseball has done very well over the years.
Overall, this ballpark is better than many minor league facilities. I couldn't find fault with anything and will conclude by stating that if you are a baseball fan, a trip to Austin to see Disch-Falk field is a must.
Member Review by megminard on Feb 28, 2014
The food selection is better down the third base/left field side. There's a nice merchandise shop. You do get a roster sheet for both teams when entering the stadium.
The grass and dirt are fake which I understand is the way many college ballparks are headed. I still don't like it. The only place that is real dirt is the pitcher's mound.
Fans are very into it and the crowd is full of burnt orange attire.
There is street parking in the adjoining neighborhood and if there's not a softball game going on next door, you can park in that lot for no charge.
The game I attended was against Stanford and it was a good one. The Longhorns won in the bottom of the 9th, tie score, two outs, bases loaded with Cardinals, and on a wild pitch. Can't say I've ever seen that one before.
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