Just a few years ago, it might have seemed like you were driving through miles of empty farmland to get to the Dell Diamond, home of the Round Rock Express (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League). But the area has grown overnight, with many new shops and stores lining the four miles it takes to exit Interstate 35 and travel down Route 79. The ballpark looms on the left, settled beside Old Settlers Park, a recreational park that many families seemed to be enjoying before the game on this Sunday afternoon.
The Dell Diamond was built in 2000 and has found great success with the local community. With its position approximately 20 miles north of Austin, it has prospered attracting local baseball fans who cheer for both the Houston Astros, the club’s former affiliate, and the Texas Rangers, the current affiliate.
There are many unique features to this ballpark including the United Heritage Center, which is 10,000 square feet of event space and can also be used for suites, and the Intel Club, a restaurant-style space on the suite level that can accommodate up to 200 fans. But the areas around the outfield hold unique, family-friendly features that are seldom combined in a minor league ballpark. In right field, there is a pool and spa area complete with a picnic area that can be rented out for 50 guests which can be especially refreshing for those hot, Texas summer days that can get into the 100s. In center field is the Fun Zone, which was attracting lots of families with its “Sport Court” basketball court, rock wall, bungee trampoline, simulated pitching area, and playground. In left field, we have the rockers aka rocking chairs right under the Home Run Porch and they are almost always full.
The merchandise store known as The Railyard has a fun selection of Express gear from vendors including Under Armor and Nike. Two unique items were the Under Armor camouflage hoodie and the Jordan Flight Jacket. The store is located by the United Heritage Center and can be accessed on non-game days as well.
There aren’t many restaurants within walking distance of the ballpark, but you probably won’t need another option with the assortment of food at the Dell Diamond. Concessions are a great source of pride and are provided by Ryan Sanders Sports Services. A selection of assorted craft beers can be found at the Brew At The Rock Beer Garden and the FrozenSational Tiki Bars located on both the first and third base sides of the park.
The park also serves Nolan Ryan brand beef throughout the park and at the Metro Deli, salute Austin legends in the form of The Willie, The Stevie Ray, and The McConaughey which looks like it’s alright, alright, alright. The naming fun continues at Fairlane’s Diner which offered The Marilyn, The James Dean, and The Fender. If that doesn’t fit the bill, there is fish and chips at the Coop & Kennel pub or an Aloha Burger at the Ono Pacific Grill.
Suite catering is just as special with a special Lave Rock Fire and Ice package. Beef tenderloin, Texas gulf shrimp, asparagus, and shiitake mushrooms are delivered on a frozen marble slab along with a volcanic lava rock, which is heated to over 700 degrees. Then you can grill everything on the rock and eat it with a roasted garlic crostini. The quality and uniqueness of the food presented by Ryan Sanders Sports Services has led to them expanding their services to the Circuit Of The Americas racetrack and the Texas Stars, a minor league affiliate of the Dallas Stars hockey team.
The staff is very friendly and willing to help you with any issue or question that you might have. The in-game entertainment is family-friendly and definitely humorous. Two of the in-game cameras that drew lots of applause were the emoji cam and the Simba cam. The emoji cam saw fans trying to match the emoji that popped up on the giant video board in the outfield and the Simba cam is exactly what you think it is. And yes, you will be amazed at the amount of people who are willing to hold their children, dogs, phones, etc. into the air like baby lions.
All in all, it’s a fun ballpark with many special details that make it stand out which might be why it’s continued to draw strong crowds for over 16 years and an affiliate change.
All photos by Jarah Wright