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  • Eric Moreno

Tankersley Field - Prairie View A&M Panthers


Photos by Eric Moreno, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.14

Tankersley Field 100 Stadium Dr Prairie View, TX 77445

Prairie View A&M Panthers website Tankersley Field website

Year Opened: 2014 Capacity: 512

 

Prairie View A&M University - Tankersley Field

Prairie View A&M University is one of the oldest Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the state of Texas. The Panthers have a long history of excellence in all athletic fields. They began playing games on the baseball diamond in 1970, led by their legendary Head Coach John W. Tankersley. He would lead the team from 1970 to 2002, before passing away in 2003.

The Panthers would find success in the coming years, winning the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) Championship in 2006, 2007, and 2012, and subsequently appearing in the NCAA Tournament in those years.

After renovations beginning in 2013, Prairie View A&M would rechristen their ballpark after their late, legendary coach: John W. Tankersley Field. It would open in time for the 2014 season. One of the smaller Division I stadiums in the country, Tankersley Field is not without its charms and its fans. Read on to learn more about the pride of the Panthers baseball team.

Food & Beverage 3

In any other circumstance, this rating would be much lower because there is only one concession stand at Tankersley Field. However, the sheer diversity of the menu offered at the stand brings this rating up to what it currently is.

The stand has the standard fare, to be sure, such as hot dogs ($5, or chili cheese dogs for $7), popcorn, ($3), and nachos ($6). Also on the menu are sausage buns ($6), boudin ($6), and wing baskets (fries plus a dozen wings, with your choice of sauces, for $12). They also sell bottled soda, water, and sports drinks ($5 and $6), as well as bottled and canned beer.

Even with only one stand, the lines never get too long (and the most recent game I attended was a rivalry game with a decent-sized crowd). This is always crucial if you don’t want to miss any action on the field. It’s also worth noting that fans can bring in their food and beverages (within reason when it comes to alcohol) to games if they choose not to partake from the concession stand.

Atmosphere 2

Overall there is a nice aesthetic to Tankersley Field. The facades on the dugouts are a pleasing old-school brick design. They also have – very much needed – shaded seating in the bleachers behind home plate, to keep out as much of the southeast Texas sun as possible.

On the home team dugout, there are markers highlighting the team’s past accomplishments. Aside from this, that is pretty much all there is in terms of highlights. It is small, but that does work in favor of adding to the energy that we’ll discuss shortly in the “Fans” section.


Neighborhood 2

For the most part, the bulk of the city life in Prairie View is centered around Prairie View A&M’s campus. Tankersley Field sits right on campus and rests in the shadow of nearby Panther Stadium, home to the football team. The William Nicks Building (the “Baby Dome”), home of the Panthers basketball team, is also nearby.

In terms of dining options, you are mostly going to be limited to fast food options in town, which cater to the college crowd. The nearby city of Waller, Texas (which is just a 10-minute drive from PVAMU’s campus) has far more options, both in terms of dining and lodging. Some highlights include the Waller County Line Pit BBQ, known for its pit-smoked ribs and chicken, and the Hedgehog Grill, a traditional American-style grill that serves up chicken fried steak, burgers, and homemade desserts.

When it comes to attractions, this will probably be the first time I’ve gotten the chance to write about the experience that is Buc-ee’s. For Texans, especially those that travel the endless miles up and down Interstates 10 and 35, Buc-ee’s is an oasis, a safe haven, and quite frankly a best friend. Waller has a location, and it is tough to put into words what this hybrid megastore/gas station/rest stop is like until you’ve experienced one in person. A Buc-ee’s has to be seen to be understood.

For lodgings, you are going to have to venture outside of Prairie View to find somewhere to stay. Some nearby options include Best Western Plus Waller Hotel and Holiday Inn Express & Suites Waller – Prairie View. If you’re looking for more to do or other food and lodging options, the Houston metroplex is just about a 30–45 minute drive from Prairie View.

Fans 2

As previously mentioned, Tankersley Field is what would generously be described as “small”. With a capacity of 514, you will never have a super large crowd at Panthers games, especially as the weather starts to warm up during the summer months. The game I most recently attended was a weekend game against a traditional rival, and it appeared there were equal amounts of visiting fans as there were home fans filling the stands. While this made for a lively crowd, it was a bit unexpected.


Access 2

Quite frankly, unless you live in the Houston area it’s not easy to get to either Prairie View A&M or Tankersley Field. It’s a 45-minute drive from downtown Houston and a three-hour drive from San Antonio. Also, there isn’t anything in the way of public transportation in the area, unless you’re a student and can hop on one of the shuttles on campus. Luckily, once you’ve made your way to campus, parking is plentiful and – best of all – is free for all Panther games.


Return on Investment 3

In addition to the free parking at Panthers games, they have free admission as well. For any Division I sport, anytime you can count “free” among the costs is a great day for the sports fan. While the bulk of the Panthers non-conference schedule is played on the road – including their marquee non-conference games – it is still DI baseball that you get to see for free at Tankersley Field. This includes at least one homestand against some of the most legendary HBCU programs of all time. Couple that with some affordable and out-of-the-box concessions, and this all adds up to a pretty good time at the ballpark.

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Extras 1

In terms of Extras, you really will be hard-pressed to find anything to write home about at Tankersley Field. The main draws are what is put out there on the field. There are no bells and whistles, no frills, and nary any pomp and circumstance to be found. If you’re a baseball fan though, what Prairie View A&M offers will be enough for you.


Final Thoughts

All in all, it is a fun experience at Tankersley Field taking in the Prairie View A&M Panthers. The field, as they say, is what it is. The stands are nice, and the field is nice, but there just isn’t much to it beyond that. If you’re looking for a bucket list experience, this probably isn’t that for you. However, if you’re not a diehard fan of an alum and are just looking for a way to catch a ballgame for a bargain-basement price, then this is what you’re looking for.

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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