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Official Review by Eric Moreno, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
There are few spots in the Texas League better to visit than the coastal city of Corpus Christi, home of the Houston Astros’ Double-A affiliate Corpus Christi Hooks. The home stadium of the Hooks is Whataburger Field and it is one of the nicer minor league ballparks you will find. Since opening in 2005, the state-of-the-art facility has seen its fair share of great baseball played, especially as the parent club has reemerged after a long period of dormancy thanks in large part to its farm system’s success.
Designed by famed stadium architects HKS, Inc., Whataburger Field opened in 2005 and has since been home to the 2007 Texas League All-Star Game and also played host to several Houston Dynamos MLS matches, including one against in-state rival FC Dallas. The park is an absolute gem for a number of reasons.
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".
Whataburger Field has an abundance of food options on both of its main levels. On all the "regular" concession stands, you will find ballpark mainstays like the must-have hot dog, popcorn, peanuts, nachos, cotton candy, etc. You will also find pizza options and in-state favorites such as Frito pies and smoked sausages. However, there are quite a few "specialty" vendors out there for more discerning tastes.
In addition to a roasted corn and fresh-squeezed lemonade ($5) stand along the concourse of the third base line, there is a vendor offering several out-of-the-box flavors of funnel cakes, including birthday cake, cookies and cream, strawberry lemonade, and s'more ($7 each). In the same area, barbecue fans will be delighted by the selection of Nolan Ryan Meat offerings, including Texas-style cheesesteaks ($7.75) and sliced sausage sandwiches ($6.75).
Another hit with the crowd is the new Laredo Taco Company food truck that "lives" behind the berm in straightaway center field. Offering made from scratch Tex-Mex staples such as beef and chicken fajitas and beef, chicken, or cheese quesadillas, this vendor is one not to be missed.
Speaking of which, probably the best of the lot (though I am biased) is the titular sponsor of the ballpark, Whataburger. Consistently ranked as one of the best fast food chains in the country, the paired down Whataburger stand (located behind the main entrance) still offers the best of the best from their menu, namely burgers ($5.25 for a single cheeseburger), French fries ($2.25 for a regular order and $2.75 for a large), and onion rings ($2.50/$3).
The designers took great pains to include as much of what makes Corpus Christi unique into the stadium. This all starts with the unique look of the stadium overall.
Built on the grounds of a former cotton mill at the shipping channel port, much of the look takes from the industrial roots of the area. Lumber, exposed brick, and steel all give Whataburger Field that great throwback vibe. Two of the steam-powered cotton presses have been incorporated into the outfield areas beyond the fences in left and left-center field.
The sight lines also greatly add to the charm of the park. Beyond left field is the shipping channel. Throughout the game, cargo barges can be seen slowly chugging along as they make their way out into the Gulf of Mexico. Beyond center field is the famous Harbor Bridge, with its high arches and graceful lines.
Additional nice touches are the two general admission berms in left field and right center. These are great values at only $6 a piece. One of the more innovative general admission tickets is the rocking chair seats in the Goodwill Zone in left center. For an extra $5 on top of your general admission ticket, you can sit and relax in style. The mascots, Rusty Hook and Sammy Seagull also add to the atmosphere of the park.
The neighborhood adds greatly to the attraction of Whataburger Field. The port area of Corpus Christi has undergone a bit of an urban renaissance in the past 10 years, with Whataburger Field being the main point of interest. The SEA Area (Sports, Entertainment, and Arts) has a wealth of attractions aside from the Hooks. In fact, right next door is one major attraction: Hurricane Alley Waterpark.
Sitting literally right behind the right field fence, Hurricane Alley is one of the area's largest water parks. Though not officially part of the Whataburger Park experience, it does offer a welcome respite on those hot summer days. Directly across the street from the park is the Brewster Street Ice House, a popular restaurant/bar/concert venue. Specials are offered after Hooks games.
Whataburger Field is also conveniently located a short drive from what makes Corpus Christi truly memorable: the beach. As such, there are dozens of hotel and motel accommodations, many of which open up right onto the beach.
Corpus Christi has a long history with minor league baseball and it shows in both the attendance at the games and the exuberance with which they cheer on the home team. The fans are engaged from the get go and with the recent success that the Hooks have had by sending scores of their players to the big league club, it is easy to see why.
Some of the best reactions from the crowd come on home runs from the Hooks players. After which, volunteers collect for a charity in which dozens of fans participate. They cheer when the team does well and rally when the team gets behind. They are a great crowd for any level of baseball.
Access to and from Whataburger Field is fairly easy. The field is parallel to Interstate 181 and has two access points, one at Port Ave. and one at Tancahua St. You can easily attend a sold out game and still exit and be on your way in short order.
Being so close to a main highway as well as downtown and the beach gives visitors a multitude of options in terms of attending the game on short notice and for options once the games are over.
You can rarely beat minor league baseball when it comes to getting a return for your dollar. For visitors to Whataburger Field, this rings especially true. Reserved seating for Hooks games ranges from $9 to $17 and general admission seating starts at $6. You can't beat the general admission prices for the views you get on the berms, and for the extra $5, the rocking chair seats are a nice touch and harken back to a simpler time.
Whataburger Field is a great take on a retro ballpark. There are lot of little throwbacks and nods to the previous "tenant" of the space. If you have the time to go searching for them, you won't be disappointed. More obvious extras are the giant statue of a ballplayer that greets all visitors to the park. Entitled "For the Love of the Game," the bronze batter is believed to be the largest statue of an athlete in the U.S. Another can't be missed feature of the park are the party decks. The Mike Shaw Line Drive Loft offers some of the best views in the park. In right field, there is an honest to goodness saltwater swimming pool for parties. How many parks can boast that?
This is one of the better ballpark experiences in MiLB. The views from the park can't be beat and the backdrops are breathtaking. The seats are comfortable throughout the park and, as an added tidbit, the architects designed all of the concession stands so those in line can always view the field without ever having their backs turned to the action. Whataburger Field, come for the baseball and the burgers and stay for the views.
Member Review by pderrick
In 2004, Ryan-Sanders Baseball, decided to relocate their Texas League team to beautiful Corpus Christi. Built on an old cotton farm, Whataburger Field has a new ballpark feel, while still keeping some old Corpus tradition with a few cotton farm buildings in left field.
Whataburger is a huge Texas burger franchise that was started in Corpus Christi in the early fifties. Due to Corpus Christi being right on the coast you can see a vast array of Tankers and other ships in the background of the stadium on any given night, which makes this a very scenic and unique park.
1724 N Tancahua St
Corpus Christi, TX 78401
702 E Port Ave
Corpus Christi, TX 78401