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  • Michael Davis

The Depot at Cleburne Station – Cleburne Railroaders




Photos by Michael Davis Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.43

The Depot at Cleburne Station 1906 Brazzell Road Cleburne, TX 76033

Cleburne Railroaders website The Depot at Cleburne Station website


Year Opened: 2017 Capacity: 1,750

 


All Aboard to The Depot at Cleburne Station

The Depot at Cleburne Station is a multi-use facility for the city of Cleburne, Texas. The facility opened on May 18, 2017, for $20.7 million. The opening of the 1,750 fixed-seat ballparks brought professional baseball back to Cleburne after a 95-year absence. Cleburne, Texas was an important hub for the Santa Fe Railway when trains would bring in cattle to push north along the Chisholm Trail to Kansas in the late 1800s.

The history of professional baseball here dates back to 1906 when the original Railroaders joined the Texas League. The 1906 Cleburne team won the Texas League Championship with the talent of nine Major Leaguers, including Hall of Famer Tris Speaker. The team folded after the 1906 season. However, Cleburne would return in 1911, again with the Railroaders but this time in the Texas-Oklahoma League.

The Railroaders would win their second league championship, but as before would not defend their crown the following season. Cleburne returned to the Texas-Oklahoma League 10 years later as the Cleburne Generals, playing for 2 seasons without a championship and then folding again in 1922 – Cleburne professional baseball then went dormant until the current Railroaders began to play in 2017.

The Depot at Cleburne Station is a synthetic field with a dirt pitcher’s mound. The field size is asymmetrical with the left field being 335ft, while the right field is shorter at 320ft. The power alleys are 383ft (left-center) and 375ft (right-center), with the center field being 400ft. The home team occupies the third base dugout and both teams’ bullpens are in right-center hidden behind the kid’s zone.

The Depot at Cleburne Station has already added an accolade to its resume – the Depot was voted by fans as their favorite independent baseball ballpark according to Ballpark Digest’s Best of the Ballparks in 2017.

Food & Beverage 4

The Depot has two main concession stands, one serving each side of the baselines. The concessions are a surprise for the size of the ballpark – there is plenty of ballpark fare from peanuts, popcorn, and pretzels to candy, nachos, and hot dogs. All prices are under $5, with the items a little more expensive by $1 being the hamburgers, grilled chicken sandwiches, and sausage dogs.

There are also a couple of specialty carts; one serving Wagyu burgers for $10 and jalapeno cheese sausage for $9, and the other brisket tacos for $8, or a brisket baked potato for $9.50. There are also plenty of sweets inside the ballpark, but a staple treat is the Artic Buzz (Vodka Ice Cream) for $9.

Dr. Pepper products are featured at The Depot – fountain drinks prices are $3.50, bottled water is $2.75, and sports drinks are $3.75. In addition, there are plenty of adult beverages at a reasonable price of $5.50 for Coors Light, Bud Light, Shiner Bock, Michelob Ultra, and many more. There are also specialty beers from local breweries Revolver and Houston’s Karbach brewery that improve the beer selection for $1 more than the national domestic beer.

Beer is available in both cans and on draft, and Crook and Marker flavors are available for fans that want a different type of alcoholic treat. Finally, there is an alcohol special for fans that attend Saturday night games – this is the Saturdays Saturday night special, a $3 16oz can of Natural Light.

Atmosphere 3

The Railroaders are on target with providing a great atmosphere for fans. The Depot is set to entertain the smallest fans with the team’s mascot, Spike, or even younger fans with shorter attention spans who can shoot a few basketballs while at the ballpark. There is the expected in-between innings entertainment with race contests as well as a ringing train bell for outs and runs. Every game can be a different perception of the atmosphere for many reasons, however, if you want to have a fun night with a small amount of money then a game at The Depot is one of the best atmospheres around.

Neighborhood 2

The Depot at Cleburne Station is located on the northern outskirts of the city, at the intersection of US 67 and Chisolm Trail Parkway. Cleburne is a city with a population of around 30,000; the city is named in honor of Patrick Cleburne, a Confederate general. Cleburne is approximately a 1-hour drive from DFW International Airport, 30 miles south of Fort Worth (45-minute drive), or 75 miles north of Waco.

Cleburne’s downtown area features several chain restaurants on W Henderson Street. The best food option in Cleburne is sampling the local flavors, so Tex-Mex at La Cima Mexican Cuisine or a small-town American diner such as Heroes Café would be good choices.

The lodging near the ballpark is basic hotel chains such as Holiday Inn & Suites-Cleburne or La Quinta Inn. However, for a more unique recommendation, check out Liberty Hotel in the center of Cleburne.

Attractions around Cleburne center on outdoor activities at the 498-acre Cleburne State Park or the 1,550-acre Lake Pat Cleburne. Or, on days when the Texas heat is not safe, there is the Layland Museum showing the area’s historical relics, early Texana, comprehensive Indian artifacts dating from pre-Columbian cultures, fossils, and genealogy records.

Fans 4

Cleburne went 95 years without professional baseball, so in the inaugural season of the return of Railroaders, it was 100% sold out (1,780) throughout the season. Of course, that season a former Texas Ranger, Rafael Palmiero, was playing alongside his son as the main attraction.

The Cleburne baseball fans embraced having professionals back in Cleburne, but last year (2018) the attendance did drop 28% to 1,285 fans per game. But this 2019 season the team averages around 1,531 fans per game despite being the smallest ballpark in the league; the average attendance is now above others in the American Association.

Although the crowd at The Depot may not be on par with larger ballparks, the fans are very vocal and engaged throughout the game. The fans at The Depot at Cleburne Station are also very community-oriented, with the locals being either diehard baseball fans or families enjoying the summer at the ballpark.

Local fans have waited almost a century for baseball to return to Cleburne, and the strong pride of having baseball return coupled with an already proud connection to the past means professional baseball in Cleburne has a solid path to travel on well into the future.

Access 3

Cleburne is about an hour’s drive from the DFW airport, on the Fort Worth side of the Metroplex. Using Interstate 35W south from the DFW area, The Depot at Cleburne Station is located off US HWY 67 at the Nolan River Road exit, or the south end of Chisholm Trail Parkway 27 miles from Fort Worth, Texas. A large parking lot is surrounding the ballpark, as Cleburne Station has yet to be fully constructed to its potential.

Fans can enter the ballpark through one of two gates, the largest being the main gate behind home plate. This entrance is the center of The Depot and contains a historic chief engine train, pre-game entertainment, and box offices. Just inside the main entrance are the pro shop and the Cleburne Baseball Museum.

The other entrance is a small entrance that connects the parking lot to the first base side of the concourse. The concourse is located above the seating bowl and houses the concessions and restrooms for the ballpark.

The seating bowl at The Depot has safety netting that stretches from the right field general seating berm to the third base seating berm. This will most likely be the future of baseball safety and Cleburne is leading the safety-first campaign. The ballpark does have a party view patio and suites overlooking the lower bowl of seats and the concourse, and there is also a picnic patio along the right field line that has more trains.

There is also a kid’s zone located beyond the right field fence that can be seen from the general seating areas, but the kid’s zone’s premier attraction is a basketball court. The team’s bullpens are located beyond the kids’ zone.

The reason access is ranked as average is the distance of Cleburne from the DFW area, but once at the ballpark access is top-notch from the parking and gates to the concourse and seating areas.

Return on Investment 4

Tickets for Cleburne Railroaders games range in price from $8 for berm admission to $12 for baseline reserved seating and $14 for reserved seats around the home plate; there is also the Suites party deck or the Rahr Bar table for $15. The cheapest seating is the picnic tables on the first base side for $6.25.

Parking is free in the lots surrounding the ballpark, and concessions are surprisingly reasonably priced for a sports venue, making the overall ROI on a Railroaders game above average, and providing an affordable night out for the family.

Extras 4

The Railroaders name connects not only Cleburne’s baseball past but also the history of this small Texas city, and the ballpark theme and future development at Cleburne Station is a great concept in continuing Cleburne’s history. Also, the Cleburne Baseball Museum located inside the main entrance is a great place to read about Cleburne baseball’s past teams.

The ballpark itself is small, but is a perfect fit for Cleburne, and will give local baseball fans the enjoyment of watching the game for years to come.

Final Thoughts

The Depot at Cleburne Station is the headstone of future development around Cleburne, and the brand-new ballpark has the potential to keep professional baseball in Cleburne for many years to come. While Cleburne, Texas may not be a tourist hot spot, what it does have is an immaculate ballpark for any baseball fan. Any sports traveler in the Dallas-Fort Worth area should make a road trip to Cleburne and get aboard the Railroaders train at The Depot at Cleburne Station.

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