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  • Writer's pictureEric Moreno

Whataburger Field – Corpus Christi Hooks


Photos by Eric Moreno, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57

Whataburger Field 734 E Port Ave Corpus Christi, TX 78401


Year Opened: 2005

Capacity: 7,679

 

Corpus Christi Hooks – Whataburger Field

Professional baseball landed on Texas’ Gulf Coast in time for the 2005 season, when Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan and his group moved their Double-A team from Round Rock and rechristened them the Corpus Christi Hooks. Since day one, they have proven to be a hit with their hometown fans.


Serving as an affiliate of the Houston Astros, the Hooks have seen just about every good homegrown talent that H-Town has utilized make a stop in the Sparking City. This has included All-Stars such as Hunter Pence, José Altuve, Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman, George Springer, and Yordan Alvarez.


Having such a bumper crop of talent come through their roster has led to quite a bit of success for the Hooks in the Texas League. The have won a combined eight first and second-half titles, most recently in 2013, and one overall Division and League title, both in 2006.


For the entirety of their history, the Hooks have called Whataburger Field their home. Located within the eyesight of Corpus Christi Bay, and with the outfield skyline filled by the historic Corpus Christi Harbor Bridge, the ballpark is in no way short on atmosphere or charm.


Food & Beverage 4

The food and beverage scene at Whataburger Field is honestly pretty great. There are no less than a dozen stands and kiosks spread out across the main concourse. Some highlights include Nolan Ryan’s Seven-34 Smokehouse, which offers up jalapeno and cheese sausages, chopped brisket sandwiches, and BBQ nachos. There is also the Home Slice pizza stand selling Papa John’s Pizza by the slice.


For something cool and sweet on those hot and humid summer day games, there is a Kona Ice truck and a Dippin’ Dots stand. For chicken fans, there is a Tenders, Love & Chicken stand behind the first base line, offering up chicken fingers and their signature funnel cake waffle fries.


The Valero Champions Corner Bar behind the third base line and the Live Oak Bar behind left centerfield have you covered with full-service bars and plenty of beer on tap. The real highlight, however, is the ballpark’s namesake, Whataburger. I fully admit to being a huge fan of this native Texas burger chain, so my review will always be a little (orange-colored. However, I defy anyone sitting in the stands to catch a whiff of the made-from-scratch burgers and not crave one.

Atmosphere 4

There is so much to love about Whataburger Field for fans. The building has a classic design that incorporates a lot of great details into the experience.


Walking up to the main gate, your eyes are immediately drawn to a massive statue of a ballplayer. Entitled For the Love of the Game, the statue depicts a young ballplayer staring out at the game being played before him. It’s a powerful image and the centerpiece of the stadium.


Inside, there is just as much to take in. There is berm seating in the outfield in left field and center field. There are also numerous hospitality areas for groups, including a pool deck in the right center field, rocking chairs in the left, and the Cotton Club behind third base.


The Cotton Club takes its name from the former tenant of the ballpark, a cotton press. The remnants have been incorporated into Whataburger Field – two of the former buildings can be seen prominently in the outfield.


There is a team store on the main concourse behind home plate called The Tackle Box, which sells tons of Hooks merchandise. This is especially fun as during multiple games during the summer, the Hooks take part in Minor League Baseball’s (MiLB) Copa de la Diversión. This ode to the Latino culture that permeates the game of baseball sees the Corpus Christi Hooks don the gear of the Corpus Christi Cumbias; it’s a lot of fun and something only MiLB can do.

Neighborhood 4

The Sparkling City is honestly a very fun place to visit and has been a getaway destination for Texans for decades. With North Beach just up the road from the ballpark, there is no escaping that you are in a tropical climate. Palm trees dot the ballpark, as seagulls are frequent visitors to the actual playing field during games; it is just different on the Coast from anywhere else in Texas.


Whataburger Field is the next-door neighbor to Hurricane Alley Waterpark; they share a fence line, and park visitors can be seen by Hooks fans, climbing the stairs to the massive waterslides over the right field wall. It’s a nice perk to have for fans…catch a game and go to a wave pool all in the same day.


The aforementioned North Beach is also home to what is arguably the most picturesque spot of sand in the city, but also to some of the most-visited attractions in the area, such as the U.S.S. Lexington and the Texas State Aquarium. It is also home to the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders and the Corpus Christi IceRays. If you plan your visit to Corpus Christi correctly, you can probably double up on games, which is always fun.


In terms of food and lodging, there are not too many options near the ballpark, as it was built right along the shipping channel. However, there are a few spots not too far away that will suit your needs. The one eating and drinking establishment which is within walking distance is a tried-and-true favorite: Brewster Street Ice House. Burgers, sandwiches, salads, and, of course, seafood are all offered up, along with a plethora of on-tap beers.


For lodging, multiple options across the budgetary spectrum are within a 5 to 10-minute drive from the ballpark – these include the Omni Corpus Christi Hotel and the Econo Lodge Inn & Suites Corpus Christi. Also, as you get closer to downtown and even across the bay, the options will grow exponentially.


Fans 3

The Hooks average just under 4,000 fans per game at Whataburger Field, which has always placed them in the upper echelon of the Texas League. Attendance does tend to be higher in the early part of the season, traditionally; this is in large part due to the oppressive South Texas heat.


However, the fans that do show up are all about the Hooks. They wear the gear (or they wear Astros stuff, which is fine), they cheer on the team, and they bring up the energy in the ballpark. All in all, this is a good minor-league fan base.

Access 3

Whataburger Field is located right off state highway 181 near downtown Corpus Christi. The signage marking the way makes it easy to follow, and once you get there, partly due to the previously mentioned Hurricane Alley, there is plenty of parking available.


The city of Corpus Christi is tucked away along the southeast border of Texas – it is a two-hour drive from San Antonio, a three-and-a-half-hour drive from Austin, and just over three hours from Houston. The Corpus Christi International Airport does have daily flights to and from Dallas/Fort Worth and Houston if you choose not to drive.


However, while the city does have a public transportation option, the bus line does not make stops anywhere near the ballpark. So, if you choose not to drive to the game, a rideshare is going to be your best bet.


Return on Investment 3

Single-game, general admission tickets for Hooks games start at $17 per person, which is not too shabby for Double-A baseball. Parking is also not too bad at $10 per vehicle. Concessions won’t bust your wallet either, as they in no way approach what the Big Leagues charge.


All in all, if you’re heading to the game with the family, a buddy, or just solo, you are going to be able to check out some high-caliber baseball at a affordable price in a great venue.


Extras 4

The Hooks have done a great job of making their games attractive for the whole family by adding a lot in terms of Extras. For example, the team boasts not one, but two costumed mascots that patrol the stands and interact with the fans – Rusty Hook and Sammy the Seagull.

There is a Kids Club behind centerfield with a basketball court, tee ball field, playground, and rock-climbing wall. If you’re bringing young ones to the game, you will be spending some time out here at some point.


Also, like most minor league clubs the Hooks are big on fan giveaways and do so regularly. Bobbleheads, t-shirts, autographs, etc. are offered up every Saturday during the season. They also have fireworks on Fridays and dollar days on Tuesdays; just check their schedule and plan accordingly.


Final Thoughts

Whataburger Field is one of my favorite ballparks to visit. The ballpark shows its age a little, but is still beautifully done and in a great location. Visiting Corpus Christi is also always a great respite for me. Whether you’re taking in another game, visiting one of the many museums, or just heading to the beach and dining on first-class seafood, there is plenty for any visitor to do. If you ever find yourself on the Texas Gulf Coast, visit Whataburger Field – but be mindful of the heat.


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Follow Eric Moreno's Stadium Journey on Twitter at @EricMoreno6477.

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