Let’s begin with the bricks: 480,000 of them were used in the construction in the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, home of the Oklahoma City RedHawks (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League). Small wonder, then, that the stadium is nicknamed The Brick.
Opened: April 16, 1998
Capacity: 13,066 seats
Dimensions: 325L, 400C, 325R
Owner: City of Oklahoma City
Ticket Prices (2012): Field, $17; Bleacher, $11; Terrace (Friday-Sunday), $9; Lawn, $5.
League: Triple-A Pacific Coast League
Parent: Houston Astros
Address: 2 S. Mickey Mantle Drive, Oklahoma City, OK 73104
Directions: From I-235 North (accessible via I-40 and I-35), exit at Sheridan, proceed straight at light, travel two blocks, and the ballpark will be on the left.
Parking: Available in garages and lots around the stadium.
Written By: Jesse Goldberg-Strassler (October 2012)
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Names are a funny thing, though. It was originally supposed to be named the Southwestern Bell Ballpark, but that provoked a public outcry. The Oklahoman citizenry themselves were paying for the stadium through a sales tax, after all. So it was that the name was changed to Southwestern Bell Bricktown Ballpark through 2001; SBC Bricktown Ballpark through 2005 after Southwestern Bell rebranded; AT&T Bricktown Ballpark through 2010 after a merger, RedHawks Field at Bricktown briefly in 2011 after AT&T decided against renewing corporate naming rights; Newcastle Field at Bricktown for one controversial day in April 2012 after the naming rights were bought by Newcastle Gaming Center, before gaining its current name on April 5, 2012.
The name of Bricktown itself describes much more than simply the home of the RedHawks; it is the home of the historical district encompassing the ballpark, located on the eastern side of the state capital. The area rose up at the turn of the 20th century, with brick architecture ascending in force. The renaissance downtown was halted, however, by the advent of the Great Depression. In the ensuing decades, Bricktown crumbled.
The construction of the Bricktown Ballpark, begun officially in 1996, was part of a concerted effort to revitalize the fallen Bricktown. Meanwhile, Oklahoma City’s minor league team, the 89ers, had played in All Sports Stadium since 1962. They were ready for a new park. With it came a new identity. On April 16, 1998, the revamped Oklahoma RedHawks opened the gates to The Brick to the delight of 14,066 partisans.
As the years have passed, the Bricktown district has continued to grow in appeal and attractions (including the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder) while the Bricktown’s gem of a baseball diamond has lengthened its proud resume. The Bricktown Showdown is perhaps the most notable event to be hosted at The Brick, pitting the International League champion against the Pacific Coast League champion to determine the top team in Triple-A spanning 2006 to 2008. In 2009, the Showdown was turned into the Triple-A National Championship, with the honor of hosting it spread among a host of ballparks throughout the level.
A current visit to Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark reveals a welcome trio of sights at the entranceways, plazas honoring Cooperstown-enshrined Oklahomans Johnny Bench (behind home plate, naturally), Warren Spahn (right field) and Mickey Mantle (third base), with Johnny Bench Drive stretching down the first base side of The Brick and Mickey Mantle Drive proceeding down the third-base way.
There’s a fine salute to history and tradition throughout the RedHawks’ proud home that combines with the modern amenities inside for a winning theme. It’s the same mix of old and new that is helping the Bricktown district boom again, and it’s happening brick by brick.
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