- Matt Finnigan
Momentum Bank Ballpark – Midland Rockhounds
Photos by Matt Finnigan, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.14
Momentum Bank Ballpark 5514 Champions Dr Midland, TX 79706
Momentum Bank Ballpark website
Year Opened: 2002 Capacity: 4,709
Momentum Bank Ballpark Shines in West Texas
For the past century, western Texas’s Permian Basin has largely been known for two things: its prolific oil and natural gas production and high school football. The Permian Basin produces approximately 20 percent of the United States’s crude oil output, with pumpjacks, workover rigs, and derricks populating the West Texas plains to all horizons. More recently, the basin has gained widespread attention from fans of the book, movie, and television series, “Friday Night Lights.” The 1990 book and the 2004 movie followed the story of the 1988 Odessa Permian Panthers, while the television series, which debuted in 2006, involved a fictional, small-town Texas high school football team. This media has made Odessa’s Ratliff Stadium, featured in the movie, a popular photo spot.
Beyond hydrocarbons and halfbacks, the Permian Basin also hosts a fun minor league experience at the Double-A Midland RockHounds’ stadium, Momentum Bank Ballpark. The park opened in 2002 and has aged nicely. The 4,709-seat stadium has comfortable seating, good sightlines, and all the amenities fans expect to have at a game. With ample parking, nearby restaurants and hotels, the Oakland A’s affiliate has just about everything that makes a ballgame enjoyable.
Food & Beverage 4
Very few minor league stadiums have the breadth of food available at Momentum Bank Ballpark. Amazingly, fans can dine on some foods that do not typically appear on stadium menus. A turkey leg ($9.50), Frito pie ($5), nacho chili cheese fries ($4.75), Hot Cheeto fried cheese ($5.50), and chicken and waffles ($7) provide options for those looking for either culinary adventure or an angioplasty. Perhaps the most interesting menu item is the peanut butter and jelly bacon hot dog ($5.50). Other good options exist. At the Triple Play Taqueria, fans can enjoy quality Mexican food such as burritos ($5), tacos ($5), and pork and chicken tamales (2 for $6).
The RockHounds serve high-quality stadium foods: hot dogs ($4.25) and jumbo hot dogs ($5.50), nachos ($5), hamburgers ($5.25), cheeseburgers ($5.75), chicken tenders ($5.75), and French fries ($3.75) are available at concessions stands along both baselines. All the familiar snacks are there, too: peanuts ($3.50), cotton candy ($3.25), pretzels ($3.25), candy ($2.75), and sunflower seeds ($2.75).
Coca-Cola products are served at Momentum Bank Ballpark, served in bottles ($4.50) and on tap ($5.75 large/$4 medium/$3.25 small). Bottled water ($4), Powerade ($4), and Topo Chico are also available. HTeaO sells 12 flavors of tea, including sweet Georgia peach and unsweet coconut, with a large selling for $7 and a small selling for $6.
Domestic beers dominate the ballpark’s taps. Fans have their choice of a large ($8.50) or small ($7) Coors Light, Miller Lite, Michelob Ultra, Bud Light, Blue Moon, or Dos Equis. Aluminum bottle beer sells for $7.50, while canned beer sells for $9 (large) or $7 (small). Midland-based Tall City Brewing Co. has two beers on tap (Five Hour Drive Honey Blonde Ale and Haboob Hefeweizen, for $7) at the Tall City Tavern along the third baseline.
The RockHounds are the only professional baseball team within 250 miles of Midland. As such, they have a strong, local following. Seats are available behind home plate and along both baselines, all in close proximity to the on-field action. Momentum Bank Ballpark has plenty of berm seating and picnic areas in the outfield, as well. Fans enter through the stadium’s main gate behind home plate and can exit there or through exits on either baseline.
Video ribbon boards, installed before the 2021 season, present in-game statistics such as the line score and player information. The ballpark’s primary scoreboard conveys all of the information a fan would expect to see, though the batter’s count can be difficult to see from infield seats.
As with many franchises in Minor League Baseball, the RockHounds promote their product well. In 2021, the RockHounds offered promotional giveaways at 13 of their 60 home games, along with postgame fireworks after 10 home games and food deals throughout the season.
Momentum Bank Ballpark is one of two facilities in Midland’s Scharbauer Sports Complex (the other is Grande Communications Stadium, which hosts two high school football teams and the Midland-Odessa Sockers FC soccer team). The surrounding area teems with newer restaurants and 12 hotels less than a mile from both stadiums.
Not surprisingly, fans can find BBQ in the area around the stadium. True Texas BBQ is less than a two-minute drive north of Momentum Bank Ballpark and serves brisket, ribs, and pulled pork. More surprisingly, two sushi restaurants sit within a foul ball’s distance of the stadium: Osaka (sushi and steak) and Volcano (sushi and Asian fusion). Other nearby restaurants include Raising Canes, Potbelly Sandwich Shop, and Clear Springs Restaurant.
Interestingly, the residential neighborhood just west of the sports complex pays homage to baseball history in a fun way. Nolan Ryan Park anchors the neighborhood, with street names honoring baseball greats such as Willie Mays, Carl Yastrzemski, Lou Gehrig, Joe Dimaggio, and Roberto Clemente, along with other streets named for former MLB ballparks such as Shea Stadium, Candlestick Park, and Mile High Stadium.
Games in Midland do not typically sell out, yet a good crowd still attends. The RockHounds draw a large number of families to the game, along with baseball fans and locals looking for a fun night out. Fans are generally engaged, following and responding appropriately to the action on the field, and knowing about players on both teams.
Once there, access at Momentum Bank Ballpark is better than at many sports facilities. Because the Scharbauer Sports Complex must supply parking for two stadiums, there’s plenty to be found. Fans can park quite close to the ballpark’s entrance. The concourse is sufficiently wide that the RockHounds have placed pop-up bars along each baseline, enabling fans to sit and enjoy a cold beer while still watching the action on the field. That concourse allows fans to circumnavigate the playing field without missing any action. Stadium attendants keep fans moving through the gate, and concessions lines move quickly. All aspects of the park are clean and well maintained.
Although driving to a RockHounds game is easy, mass transit is also an option. The Midland Odessa Urban Transit District’s Midland 5 line stops at Scharbauer Sports Complex, connecting the ballpark to other points in Midland.
Return on Investment 4
A RockHounds game does not break the bank. Tickets range from $8 for berms and standing room to $12 for a reserved seat behind home plate. There is not a bad seat at Momentum Bank Ballpark but the reserved seat is worth the slight difference in cost. The reserved seats place fans almost in the game. The RockHounds also help fans locate their seats by affixing signs on the concourse demarcating the top of each reserved seating section – a nice touch that many stadiums do not have.
Ticket deals abound throughout the season. For Sunday home games, fans can buy five reserved seats and receive five scoops of ice cream for $25. Tuesday home games feature 2-for-1 tickets, while fans attending home games on Wednesdays (half-price hot dogs) and Thursdays (half-price draft beer and soft drinks) also get breaks.
Parking at Momentum Bank Ballpark is free, making a RockHounds game a good bargain.
A point to the RockHounds for having what might be professional baseball’s only basketball court, which sits in the stadium’s right-field corner (though on the night of this review, kids were playing catch with a baseball there).
A game at Momentum Bank Ballpark offers a solid minor league baseball experience at great prices, particularly for a AA team. Fans can see players just two steps away from reaching Major League Baseball in a beautiful stadium with easy access.
Follow Matt Finnigan’s stadium journeys on Twitter @mattfinniganco