Grand Prairie, TX
Review by Gary
AirHogs Stadium opened in 2008 as the home of the Grand Prairie Air Hogs of the independent American Association. Located near a horse track and concert venue, the stadium named the Best New Ballpark of 2008 by Ballpark Digest sits “just down the road a spell” from the entertainment megaplex of Arlington, Texas where you can find Major League Baseball, the Cowboy’s Jerry World, the original Six Flags and a huge water park. Serious competition, indeed.
The AirHogs, later known as the Texas AirHogs, would be the primary tenants from 2008 to 2019. They would not be the alone, however, as the Dallas Desire of the women's Lingerie Football League played two home games in Grand Prairie during their 2009 season. The Texas United soccer team would move in to AirHogs Stadium in 2017. Finally, with minor league baseball no longer in play, the ballpark will be converted into a cricket ground for the inaugural Major League Cricket season in 2022, featuring world-class T20 cricket. The Grand Prairie stadium will also serve as a base for the USA National Cricket team. Talk about multitasking!
As for the stadium itself, it once featured all the bells and whistles that a minor league team would want to lure fans away from the MLB temple where the Texas Rangers played just 15 minutes away. There was a kid zone complete with a wiffleball court in the shape of the main field and a jungle-gym. A semi-circular swimming pool and deck juts out over the center field wall, creating quirky angles and corners, reminiscent of a Pachinko machine, to befuddle outfielders chasing balls in the gap.
A double-decked picnic area sits down the left field line with the bullpens nestled into the seating areas to bring players and fans closer to one another. Do cricket players need bullpens?
The best feature of AirHogs Stadium is the main entrance. The name "AirHogs"' is a term used by U.S. military pilots, and refers to the city's aviation industry. Lockheed is headquartered in Grand Prairie and there is a cool array of statues of pilots that greet fans. Tall towers above the stadium offices resemble flight towers while corrugated metal abounds on the columns, building facades and restaurant just over the left field wall. Beyond the memorial is a concrete airstrip with a runway number (80, or perhaps, 08?) and wide white stripes. It’s too bad AirHogs Stadium didn’t survive as a baseball stadium. Perhaps the cricket league can get its wickets in a row and avoid being bowled out.