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  • Writer's pictureEric Moreno

UTRGV Baseball Stadium – UT Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros


Photos by Eric Moreno, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.71

UTRGV Baseball Stadium 920 N Sugar Rd Edinburg, TX 78541


Year Opened: 2001

Capacity: 5,000

 

UTRGV Vaqueros – UTRGV Baseball Stadium


In 2013 the University of Texas system combined two of its far south Texas schools, UT-Pan American and UT-Brownsville, into one school to better serve the students and residents of the area. This also combined the athletic programs of the UT-Brownsville Ocelots and the UT-Pan American Broncs into the newly formed UT-Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) Vaqueros in time for the impending 2014 season.

The new Vaqueros would inherit the former Broncs statistics and records, including their impressive accomplishments on the baseball diamond. From 1968 to 1986, the team made the NCAA Tournament a staggering 13 times – including a trip to the College World Series in 1971. They did so under the stewardship of legendary Head Coach Al Ogletree who coached at UT-Pan American from 1969-1997.


Vaqueros Accomplishments, Photo by Eric Moreno, Stadium Journey

The city of Edinburg donated the formerly eponymously named Edinburg Stadium – home of the Broncs and of the minor league Edinburg Roadrunners – to UTRGV in time for the 2014 season. It was renamed UTRGV Baseball Stadium in 2016, when the first of a series of renovations began. It’s truly a unique setting for baseball in one of the most unique setting in all of Texas. Read on to learn what makes it special.

Food & Beverage 3

While there are two concessions stands at UTRGV Baseball Stadium – one down each baseline – there was only one open during my visit, with one separate beer and alcohol tent. With that said, this one concessions stand had a pretty darn good assortment of food offerings for a college stadium.

They have your traditional hot dogs and chili cheese dogs (at the oddly priced $3.29 and $3.59, respectively), nachos, chili cheese nachos, and – as a bonus – fajita nachos ($8). Also on the menu are fajita tacos (you can smell them from the parking lot and they’ll set you back a measly $4 apiece), Frito pie ($3), sausage wraps ($5), and a Vaquero chicken sandwich ($6.50).

On the beverage side there are fountain sodas, bottled water, and sports drinks, in addition to the aforementioned adjacent beer and alcohol tent. The tent sells $6 domestic pours and $7 mixed drinks through the bottom of the seventh inning. All in all, this is a more than a decent menu of offerings; I’ve been to minor league parks that have offered less!

Atmosphere 3

Just like with the concessions, I was pleasantly surprised with the overall atmosphere at UTRGV Baseball Stadium. As you walk up to the stadium off Sugar Road you are greeted by the Al and Joann Ogletree Plaza, complete with monuments to Coach Al and his wife. The plaza serves as a gateway to the main entrance of the ballpark.


Al and Joann Ogletree Plaza, Photo by Eric Moreno, Stadium Journey

Once inside, UTRGV logos emblazon the roofs of the dugouts and the sit atop the outfield walls, beyond which is outlined with the ubiquitous palm trees of the region.

Adorning the outfield walls are the years commemorating the team’s trips to the NCAA Tournament, their College World Series appearance, and their most recent conference championship (in 2019 as members of the Western Athletic Conference). In center field there is a flag waving with Coach Ogletree’s retired number, and there is also a team merchandise store located near the stands behind home plate and along the first base line.

There are also covered areas in left field and right field, so that general admission seating fans can get out of the sun on those oh-so frequent hot games that happen in the Rio Grande Valley.

Neighborhood 3

UTRGV Baseball Stadium is located right in the middle of the UT-RGV campus. As such, the only things you’ll find in the immediate area around the ballpark will be student housing and university buildings. However, venturing not too far into the city of Edinburg proper you’ll find plenty to do, plenty to eat, and plenty of find places to lay your head for the evening.

Edinburg is the county seat of Hidalgo County, Texas, and is the third-largest city in the Rio Grande Valley. For sports fans the city is home to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the NBA G League and the Rio Grande Valley FC Toros of the USL; you have a good chance of doubling up your sports fandom when taking in a game at UTRGV Baseball Stadium if you plan your visit right.

For outdoor enthusiasts, this region of Texas is one of the literal and figurative hotbeds of activity for cycling enthusiasts, hikers, and birdwatchers. For the latter, the Edinburg Scenic Wetlands & World Birding Center is a 40-acre wetlands oasis in the middle of the city, and is just a short drive from the ballpark. It offers visitors watchable wildlife year-round in a setting friendly to birds, butterflies, and water-loving creatures.

If you’re a history buff, the Museum of South Texas History is right up your alley. The museum tells the story of this region of Texas from pre-history to modern times. Exhibits include a fully complete skeleton of a mammoth, as well as Texas Revolution-era artifacts. It’s also a short drive from the UTRGV campus, which is a nice bonus.

In terms of dining, one spot you must hit up is Delia’s. As their slogan says, Delia’s specializes in tamales, and these are as legit as they come. Just be forewarned that this is literally all that is on the menu. I’d recommend taking some home with you if you have the means because they are that good. They have multiple locations around Edinburg, including one less than three miles from the ballpark. Also, as you might surmise, being this close to the border, Tex-Mex is the food of the place and Trevino’s Restaurant has been consistently rated as the best in the city. Fajitas, enchiladas, chimichangas – all are on the menu and all are crowd-pleasers.

When you’re looking for a place to lay your head during your stay in Edinburg, there are numerous options not only in the city, but also near the ballpark for you to choose from. While none are within walking distance, most are less than 10-minute drives away, including the TownePlace Suites by Marriott McAllen Edinburg and the Motel 6 Edinburg, TX.

Fans 3

The Vaqueros draw a pretty good size crowd to games at UTRGV Baseball Stadium. On their calendar they even noted a forthcoming game against the Texas Longhorns was already a sellout, which will be a nice boon for the program.

At the most recent game I attended it was another good crowd, filled with what looked like students, alumni, and local fans. They were engaged throughout (despite the heat) and cheered their team the entire game.

My one complaint is what appears to be a tradition the hometown fans have – whenever the P.A. announcer says a visiting player’s name, the crowd would yell “Who?” followed by “Cares.” I’m all for good old-fashioned heckling, but this seemed out of place at a college game and seemed like something that should be left to pro sports.

Access 2

First things first in terms of Access; it is a chore to get down to the Rio Grande Valley from virtually every major city in Texas. By car it is a three-and-a-half-hour drive from San Antonio, five hours from Houston and Austin, and seven and a half from the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.

If you want to shorten the trip, the McAllen International Airport has daily flights to and from both Houston and Dallas/Fort Worth. It’s also a 20-minute drive to the ballpark. Once you get onsite, parking is free and ample in the lot right in front of the ballpark.

Return on Investment 3

General admission seating for UTRGV Vaqueros games is $8 per person. With the schedule that the team plays in the WAC combined with their non-conference opponents (I already mentioned their sellout game against the Longhorns), fans get quite the bang for their buck at UTRGV Baseball Stadium. This is especially true when you take into account the low-cost concessions and the free parking.

Extras 2

One area where I have seen a lot of college baseball lag behind is in the “Extras” area. Unlike other college sports they don’t trot out a lot of the pomp and circumstance at games. What they do have are contests for fans in between innings (there’s a bean bag toss, a jersey race around the bases, things of that nature) and the traditional singing of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the seventh inning stretch. Another nice perk was handing out free Dairy Queen Blizzard coupons every time the Vaqueros hit a home run.

Final Thoughts

I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by my experience in Edinburg. UTRGV Baseball Stadium still has the great feel of a minor league stadium, and that greatly combines with the college atmosphere and the overall surrounding of the scenic Rio Grande Valley. I think all baseball fans would enjoy the experience as much as I did. Book yourself a trip to the Valley and catch a Vaqueros game when you can.

Follow Eric Moreno’s Stadium Journey on Twitter at @EricMoreno6477. Visit Eric Moreno’s writer’s portfolio site at ericmoreno.contently.com.


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