- Eric Moreno
Chapman Field – Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders
Photos by Eric Moreno, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.57
Chapman Field 6300 Ocean Blvd Corpus Christi, TX 78412
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders website
Year Opened: 2002
Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Islanders – Chapman Field
The history of Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi (TAMUCC) on the baseball diamond is still relatively in its infancy. The Islanders didn’t start playing until the 2000 season, and they did so then as a Division III independent team. They competed at this level until moving into the Southland Conference in time for the 2007 season, and have been members ever since.
Since 2002 both the baseball and softball teams have called Chapman Field home. The on-campus stadium features 500 seats in the bleachers behind the baselines and home plate, as well additional berm seating in the outfield.
In 2011 the stadium received major upgrades to completely overhaul the playing surface, upgrade the drainage system, add new fences, and – most importantly – add lights to make night baseball a reality for the first time ever in program history. The team consistently made the Southland Conference Tournament and has had 14 of its players drafted by Major League Baseball clubs. Though the Islanders are still a growing program, they have a unique way to sell it with the setting of Chapman Field.
Food & Beverage 2
The food and beverage scene at Chapman Field is decidedly limited, so you’ll need to keep that in mind when you take in an Islanders game. There is one food shack behind the home plate stands that sells a variety of traditional ball game fare, which includes hot dogs ($3 for plain) and chili cheese dogs ($4), Frito pie, nachos (both $4), and sausage wraps ($5). They also offer a South Texas favorite, Hot Cheetos and Taki’s smothered in nacho cheese (both also $4). For drinks, they sell bottled water, sodas, and sports drinks (all $2).
It’s a good selection and the cost is priced right, however, with just the one stand, it does tend to cause long lines to form. Also, no beer or alcohol are sold, so keep that in mind.
Chapman Field Concessions, Photo by Eric Moreno, Stadium Journey
It’s quite a surreal and serene experience to watch a baseball game with rolling waves in the distance, seagulls flying overhead, and palm trees swaying just beyond the foul lines – this is what Chapman Field has to offer its attendees, not to mention virtually every game played under rays and rays of glorious sunshine 10 months out of the year.
In addition to the bleacher seating, there is a covered area behind the first baseline with tables. There is also the aforementioned berm seating area in the outfield, along with bleachers and picnic tables. Visitors can sit out on the grass with their own blankets or chairs, and fans are also able to drive their vehicles out onto the area for tailgating.
The Islanders have also retired one of their players numbers – the late Casey Thomas – who’s #3 is on display in right-center field. The team also has a marketing/team store near the right field grandstands for merchandise.
As mentioned, Chapman Field is located right in the middle of TAMUCC’s campus, which itself is tucked away on an island away from the main part of Corpus Christi. This puts it at about a 20-minute drive from the popular North Beach area, which is pretty much the preferred spot for beachgoers and campers who visit the city. This is also the tourist hub of the city, home to the city’s two prime tourist attractions in the USS Lexington and the Texas State Aquarium.
This is also going to be your best bet in terms of dining and hotel options, as Ward Island, the site of TAMUCC’s campus, is pretty much bereft of everything but the school. You’ll be lucky to find anything besides a convenience store near the campus. However, once you cross over the causeway back into the city proper, you’ll be overloaded with dining and lodging options.
A personal favorite dining option that my family and I have been going to for quite a while is Doc’s Seafood & Steak Restaurant. While not in downtown Corpus Christi (actually, it’s in the opposite direction on Padre Island), it is a local institution and has been recognized as offering up some of the best seafood in the area. Another is Catfish Charlie’s, which serves up (as its name implies) fried catfish, oysters, frog legs, and one of the best chicken fried steaks on the Gulf Coast.
For lodging, there are a couple of options that aren’t too far from the TAMUCC campus. These include the Wingate by Wyndham Corpus Christi and the Best Western Paradise Inn. However, there are multiple other options that are sure to fit whatever your budget is.
As you can probably intuit, the capacity of Chapman Field doesn’t lend itself to large crowds. In fact, for most of their big time games and tournaments, the Islanders play their games at nearby Whataburger Field. For Islanders games, the home crowds are made up primarily of students and either alumni or family members of the players. Unlike the Islanders hoops team, the baseball team doesn’t generally draw too many local fans – the ones that do show are die-hards though.
Islanders Fans Watching the Game, Photo by Eric Moreno, Stadium Journey
Corpus Christi is a two-hour drive south of San Antonio and a little over three hours south from Houston. Once in the city, the Corpus Christi Regional Transportation Authority (CCRTA), the area’s public transportation option, does offer a route to the TAMUCC campus. If you don’t want to drive around the city, this is a pretty convenient option.
If you choose to drive parking is available in the Turtle Cove lot, which is outside the right field fence. For weekday games, fans who do not have a vehicle registered with the university must use their ParkMobile app to pay for hourly parking. On weekends starting at 8pm until 8am on Monday, however, parking is free.
Return on Investment 3
General admission tickets for Islanders games start at $8 per person. With concessions costs at such affordable rates coupled with free parking, this is a great way to catch some top-notch college baseball. The Islanders typically play a very competitive non-conference schedule, so with these prices you’re getting a great bargain for a low cost. It’s not going to rank as a classic facility, ultimately, but it will be a pretty good way to introduce young fans to the sport without spending too much.
The Islanders don’t have a lot to offer in terms of Extras at Chapman Field. For fans, it really is all about the atmosphere. The sunshine, the palm trees, the salt air; Corpus Christi Bay is within walking distance of the field. This in and of itself makes up for most of the park’s deficiencies.
One other highlight to point out is that the park is extremely pet-friendly. In addition to the numerous dogs that were seen running around with their owners in the outfield berm area, I counted no less than five dogs with their owners in the bleachers.
All in all, I have to say I had an enjoyable experience at Chapman Field. As I’ve mentioned, the atmosphere is one that can’t be beat. It won’t go down as a bucket list destination by any stretch of the imagination, but I think hardcore baseball fans will appreciate its aesthetics. For folks visiting Corpus Christi and looking for an affordable way to spend an afternoon, you could do worse than catching an Islanders game at Chapman Field.
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