FRISCO, TX (APRIL 5, 2013) - The Frisco RoughRiders open their 11th season of baseball at Dr Pepper Ballpark Thursday, April 11 against the Arkansas Travelers. It will be a familiar site for the fans that have piled into the RoughRiders' house over the years: a packed park of more than 10,000 fans from the Metroplex gathering to watch the Rangers of tomorrow, today.
Any 'Riders fan can predict much of the excitement of the night: the fun, family-friendly entertainment, complete with a race of toddlers on the field. Many will gasp in amazement at the acrobatics from "The CREW," the team's on-field entertainment team.
It will be Opening Day all over again. Not everything, however, remains the same.
Baseball is back in the North Dallas area with a new taste-literally. Over the off-season, the RoughRiders put in more than $1 million in upgrades to the concessions at the dazzling, already state-of-the-art Dr Pepper Ballpark.
"As a fan, you come to the park for the baseball and the family fun, but you also come for the food," notes team president Scott Sonju. "We wanted to bring new, fresh, and exciting options to our fans this season and bring our concessions in line with the first-class standard we apply to everything else we do."
For the first ten seasons, the RoughRiders worked with the concessions areas that were installed in the original construction of the park, which opened in 2003, the team's inaugural year. Months of planning and construction have changed all that.
A number of new food options will also greet fans at the home plate gates. Among the new stands are "Franx," which delivers specialty hot dogs like the "Cheesy Mac" dog that is filled with homemade mac and cheese and covered in bread crumbs, served in a gourmet roll. Or the "Firecracker" dog that comes complete with jalapeños, Monterey jack cheese and chipotle mayo, topped with spicy shredded chicken. "Sweet" serves up sundaes, funnel cakes, ice cream sandwiches and root beer floats. Spicing things up is "Salsa," a full-service burrito bar. "Steakadelphia" offers made-to-order cheesesteaks, and at "Smokie's Sausage Shack," fans will find Italian sausages, foot long bratwursts and Polish sausages all off of a sizzling flat top grill, for those who want a different kind of 'dog. The beer enthusiasts of the Metroplex will surely want to make a visit to "Good Hops," which offers a selection of craft brews.
A complete overhaul of the all-you-eat areas reduces lines and makes things easier for fans to grab their favorite ballpark choices and get back to their seats to enjoy the entertainment on the field. Renovations of the suite level with the new "Triple Play Tavern" will help facilitate larger numbers of the team's Founder's Members, the premium ticket-package holders. The InTouch Grille, a staple at Dr Pepper Ballpark, has been renovated to allow more efficient service and fresh-cooked food, not to mention a soon-to-be-favorite sundae bar.
To usher in the new era of tantalizing cuisine options, the RoughRiders entered into a partnership with Professional Sports Catering (PSC) to manage all of the team's concessions and hospitality services.
"We are extremely excited to welcome PSC into the RoughRiders family," Sonju says. PSC is a joint venture of Mandalay Baseball Properties, the parent company that owns the RoughRiders along with four other minor league baseball teams. The company specializes in concessions for the minor league environment. "PSC is about what we are about: customer-service and a fan-friendly atmosphere," Sonju adds.
For the organization that has led not just the eight-team Texas League but all of Double-A baseball for the past eight seasons in attendance, the RoughRiders are giving fans just one more reason to try a taste of baseball in Frisco.
You can read this and more about DFW area sports in the weekly edition of Sports Page Weekly or at SportsPageDallas.com.