L. Dale Mitchell Park – Oklahoma Sooners
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There’s Only One Oklahoma Baseball
L. Dale Mitchell Park is located on the campus of the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma. The park has been home to the University of Oklahoma baseball program for over 25 years, having opened on February 27, 1982 with a seating capacity of 3,180. The ballpark was named in honor of former Oklahoma letterman Dale Mitchell, who is the Sooners’ career and single-season batting title holder. The playing surface is field turf and a pitcher’s park, with spacious outfield dimensions of 335 feet down both lines and 411 feet to straight away center. The largest crowd ever at L. Dale Mitchell Park was 4,544 on May 4,1995 against the arch-rival Texas Longhorns.
The Oklahoma baseball program has won 23 conference titles and has 36 NCAA Tournament appearances, with L. Dale Mitchell Park hosting the NCAA Regionals in 2006 and 2009. The Sooners have hosted a regional in Oklahoma City on three occasions, and last hosted one in 2004 at Bricktown Ballpark. The program has appeared in 10 College World Series, and won National Championships in 1951 and 1994.
Food & Beverage 3
L. Dale Mitchell Park’s concessions are about as basic as you can get for a college venue. There are two permanent concessions stands on the main concourse, one on each baseline called “Ballpark Favorites.” These stands serve exactly what their namesake suggests – stadium favorites such as hot dogs, chili cheese dogs, nachos, popcorn, and pretzels; these items range from $4.50 to $7. The Sooner nachos and chicken tender basket are the highest priced items on the food menu, costing $9 – the Sooner nachos include chili, cheese, and sour cream. There is also a cash only mobile stand, located on the first base side, that offers hamburgers, cheeseburgers, funnel cake, corn dogs, French fries, frozen lemonade, and shaved ice.
The ballpark serves Coca-Cola products, including Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola Zero, Diet Coke, Sprite, and water. The price for soda is $6 for the souvenir cup, $4.25 for the regular size, and $5 for a 20-oz. bottle. Bottled water costs $4.50 for the same 20-oz. bottle.
The typical college baseball atmosphere is present at L. Dale Mitchell Park, with most of the games held on weekends, affording the opportunity for families and children to spend some quality time at the ballpark. The press box and suites are located behind home plate, and free programs are given out upon entry into the park. There are baseball posters and schedules on the main concourse behind home plate, along with the lineup card for both teams. The home team dugout is located on the third base side of the field. During the game, there are contests between innings, plenty of music, including the singing of “Oklahoma” in the top of the fifth, and the traditional seventh inning stretch song, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” During select games, members of the Oklahoma Pom Squad are present and participate in activities.
The University of Oklahoma is a coeducational public research university located in the city of Norman, Oklahoma. The city of Norman is 20 miles south of Oklahoma City, and has a population of 120,284, listing Norman as the 3rd largest city in the state behind Oklahoma City and Tulsa. The OU campus has a student population close to 31,000.
L. Dale Mitchell Park is located on the south side of campus between the Lloyd Noble Center and Traditions Square Apartments. The neighborhood around the ballpark is more residential, with the fast food chain Sonic being the closest restaurant, but there is also a Rudy’s BBQ down the road. The location is secluded; to get to anything with larger crowds you need to go to the other side of campus, to the popular Campus Corner area.
The Campus Corner area is on the opposite side of campus from the ballpark, to the north off W. Boyd Street. This area has numerous restaurants, including Oklahoma’s well-known Hideaway Pizza. Volare is another pizza choice that fans seem to enjoy, and The Porch, The Library Bar and Grill, O’Connell’s Irish Pub & Grill, and Seven47 are great drinking holes with food. In addition, Pepe Delgados is a great choice for fans that are looking for Tex-Mex. The Mont is also a good recommendation, located just off E Boyd Street on Classen Blvd; here you can enjoy a brunch on their patio. Also, just north of the Campus Corner area is Main Street in downtown Norman, where I would suggest The Garage for people looking for a great lunch burger.
The Oklahoma City area has so much to offer to visitors that a lot of people are surprised when they visit. Bricktown is a great spot for the traveling baseball fan; this neighborhood is home to Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, home of the Oklahoma City Dodgers (Pacific Coast League team for the LA Dodgers).
Oklahoma City will probably be on most tourist lists, but Norman, Oklahoma has a few tourist attractions of its own. The first stop is The University of Oklahoma campus – the campus, besides being a beautiful campus to walk around during baseball season, is home to a couple of nice museums, including the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History and the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art. These two museums will surely make it a wonderful educational trip. However, a visit to the University of Oklahoma wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the school’s football program. Heisman Park is located outside Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, and is a great photo op for fans.
In terms of lodging, the Riverwind Casino is about 4.5 miles from L. Dale Mitchell Park, and might be the closest lodging. However, there are plenty of places to stay near campus, including Hampton Inn-Norman and Fairfield Inn & Suites, which are both just down Ed Noble Parkway from W. Main Street near Interstate 35.
The Sooner faithful are a strong fan base, so no matter what sporting event you are attending the fans are supportive. Fans of all ages show up with their Crimson and Cream, from young girls in their OU cheerleading outfits to adults decked out in their OU novelties from head to toe. The fans cheer and jeer at the appropriate times during games, participate in the singing of the National Anthem, “Oklahoma,” and “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,“ and have a good time overall.
Access to L. Dale Mitchell Park is relatively easy. This is partly due to the ballpark being located on the southernmost part of campus, away from the main artery streets of Norman. It is a short drive from Interstate-35 to the campus, and there are plenty of ways to get to the ballpark. The easiest route to L. Dale Mitchell Park is to take exit 108A/B from Interstate 35 onto Route 9, then take a left onto W. Imhoff Road at the third traffic light. From here, L. Dale Mitchell Park will be on your left, across from the Lloyd Noble Center (OU’s basketball arena); there is free parking during baseball games in the Lloyd Noble Center parking lot.
The main entrance at L. Dale Mitchell Park has 2 entry gates – one behind home plate and one next to the ticket office. The gates and ticket office open 1.5 hours prior to the first pitch. If ADA seating is needed, please call the OU ticket office at (800) 456-4668.
L. Dale Mitchell Park’s main concourse is above the seating levels; the venue has two levels of seating with a walking concourse between the levels. The lower level seating features chair backs, while the upper level is equipped with benches. The biggest feature of the ballpark’s infrastructure is that the park is built into a grass berm. The seating is built around the infield, however, the rest of the grass berm seen beyond the seating area is very well utilized, as fans can bring blankets or chairs and sit along the top of the berm.
L. Dale Mitchell Park is easy to navigate because the walkway and seating rows are spacious enough to move around. Due to the ballpark having been built into a grass hill, the slope is the only potential negative when moving around the park, and having to climb stairs to get to the main concourse can be a challenge for people with physical limitations.
Return on Investment 3
The University of Oklahoma’s baseball ticket prices compare well with their Big 12 counterparts – ticket prices for reserve box seats are $15, while adult general admission costs $10. There is also a $2 discount for youth (5-18) and senior citizens, while children under 5 are admitted free of charge. Parking is free across the street at the Lloyd Noble Center, and the concessions aren’t professional sports inflated prices, so you can expect reasonable affordability for the food and drinks. The overall return on investment is above average for a day at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
Free parking, along with the ability to watch the game for free from beyond the outfield fence offers an old-time nostalgia like the knothole gang generation. Also, the banners of past players in the concourse connecting the present with the past is a nice mainstay, keeping OU tradition alive while the school continues to usher in new generations of players and fans. In addition, there is a friendly atmosphere here, spending the day at a ballpark watching a game without all the major league amenities.
L. Dale Mitchell Park is a tremendous place to spend an afternoon watching competitive college baseball. The Sooner game day staff does a wonderful job providing a safe yet fun-filled day for Sooner fans at the ballpark. If you are in the Norman area, There’s Only One Oklahoma Baseball, so a quick stop to watch Sooners baseball is well worth your time.
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Hampton Inn – Norman
309 Norman Center Ct
Norman, OK 73072
Fairfield Inn & Suites – Norman
301 Norman Center Ct
Norman, OK 73072
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