The flood of lights spotlight the pristine manicure of the outfield. The chatty man behind home plate calls out to each movement of the men standing before him, while they master their familiar navigation from one base to the next.
Among the stands, the night air is busy greeting the comforting conversations of fans as they’re welcomed back for another season. Although it looks and sounds very much the same each year, a true fan does not miss this, the opening day. Our very own Round Rock Express took the bases at the Dell Diamond, located at 3400 E Palm Valley Blvd. in Round Rock, for their 15th season opener on April 4, 2014.
Since 2011, this Triple-A team has been affiliated with the Texas Rangers organization, prior to which they had a Houston Astros affiliation. Starting their 15th season with flair, the Express brought Baseball Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan, back to the pitcher’s mound – driving home the foundation of the team.
Chris Almendarez, Express General Manager said, “We’re thrilled to be celebrating 15 seasons in Round Rock and Central Texas. We have a lot planned in this season of celebration, including the inaugural induction into the Express Hall of Fame with the team’s original manager Jackie Moore.”
The Round Rock Express were founded by Reid Ryan, son to the elder Ryan. Giving his talented dad a respectful nod, Reid’s minor league team takes its moniker from Nolan’s pitching nickname, “The Ryan Express.”
Although 15 seasons deep, the Express are continually innovating their ballpark. They continue to remain in tune with the voice of the people who fill the seats – the fans. In an effort to provide fans with an unsurpassed experience, you’ll continue to see progressive changes at the home of the Express, to provide a five-star ballpark experience.
Ballpark Cuisine – The Dell Diamond implemented the use of an in-house concession company called Ryan Sanders Sports Services (RS3). In its current infant phase, RS3 is seeing some anticipated hiccups and addressing them as they arise. Jill Cacic, Director of Communications for Round Rock Express said, “We pride ourselves on giving fans the best experience possible when they attend any event at Dell Diamond, and now we can make sure that extends to their food and beverage experience as well.” I did my due diligence and taste-tested my annual ballpark dog. Although there was what seemed to be a relish shortage, Nolan Ryan’s all natural beef delivered a premium ballpark dog that proved to be a step above the average game day fare.
Jack Allen’s Kitchen, of local food fame, has been introduced to Dell Diamond this season. Located inside the Intel Club on the second floor, behind home plate, Jack Allen’s menu can only be found in this location at the ballpark. The menu also features a more vast beer selection, including locally crafted beers.
- Ballpark Promos – Opening day celebrated the first of many Thirsty Thursdays at the ballpark, offering fans discounted beer specials. Give your wallet a bit of a break at ever Monday home game, when Mrs. Baird’s sponsors $1 hot dogs and sodas. Every Friday night that the Express play a home game, you can experience a post-game fireworks display. Stay in sync with the team’s promotion calendar to find out about other fun perks like half-price tickets, live concert series and even theme nights.
Ballpark Littles – The Fun Zone is a colorful bounty of bounce, climb and run space, located directly inside the right field gate. Your littles also have an opportunity to join the Junior Sluggers Kids program. For only $15 you’ll receive a ticket to every Sunday home game for the entire season, a Junior Sluggers t-shirt, a Fun Zone punch card and more. Other activities for kids during spring and summer vacations are Ballpark tours, meet and greets with the 6’7” furry mascot named Spike, and even special pool and spa seating inside the ballpark. The Pool and spa area is a group party area that can be rented out on a per-game basis… but, YES, you can bring your swimsuit and floaties to spend a day in the water while you watch the Express take a win!
- Ballpark Social – Community forums allow fans an opportunity to speak and be heard in the moment. Missing the game because concession lines are long? Let them know. The Express are taking measures to improve the experience based on conversations that take place digitally. Find all of their social connections here – you may be shocked if you tweet while you’re waiting in line and they ask which line you’re in so they can personally check out the issue. Round Rock Express have partnered with a company called TapSnap that will take quick, professional photos of your ballpark gang and create branded memories that you can easily find in the Express’ Facebook photo albums.
Before there ever were changes at Dell Diamond, the owners were making choices with the most loyal fans in mind. The original design of the ballpark placed the clubhouses in such a way that when players and coaches enter and exit the field, they walk past the fans and onto the field before entering the dugouts. These plans allow interaction between the team and the fans at every single game and help to increase fan support. “We are honored and grateful for the support the community has shown us over the past 14 seasons and look forward to what the next 15 years have in store” said Almendarez.
Gather up your buddies and head outdoors for some authentic, patriotic fun with Round Rock Express baseball. And now that I’ve given you insight into their 2014 season, as well as fanatics tips, do me a solid…I hear there is a plaque hanging in the outfield that contains a quote from founder and former CEO, Reid Ryan. Find it, read it and share the pure joy of the sport that Ryan eludes to in that quote.
Ryan-Sanders Baseball was founded by Nolan Ryan, Reid Ryan, and Don Sanders. Today with more than 60 minority shareholders, they are in the final year of a four-year player development agreement with the Texas Rangers.
When was the last time you caught a baseball game?