Review by Mike
Is it Hodgetown Stadium? Hodgetown Park? No, it’s just Hodgetown and it’s the home of the Amarillo Sod Poodles of the AA Texas League. This uniquely named ballpark opened in 2019 and is located in downtown Amarillo, Texas near the old Santa Fe Railroad depot. With free parking and easy access to the highway, the new home of baseball in the Texas panhandle provides a very pleasant setting for an evening of baseball entertainment.
Perhaps knowing their own market, Hodgetown was built smaller than a lot of newer AA parks, seating just over 6,000, and the effect is an intimate experience, with fans very close to the action. The main seating bowl doesn’t have more than a dozen rows of seating, so every seat feels like a premium location. On the outside, there is a grand entrance with HODGETOWN in giant red letters behind home plate that can be seen, in reverse, from inside the ballpark. The brickwork and exterior signage are done in a cool and interesting kind of southwest art-deco.
It seems clear that the designers were anticipating lots of group outings as there are party and picnic spaces all over the stadium. The left field corner features a large, tiered picnic area with tables and benches, all with sightlines to the field. A smaller picnic area stands next to the right field foul pole. The area directly behind home plate at field level is home to five private, open-air boxes, with the low walls that divide them made of lovely decorative stonework.
The grassy berm beyond the right-centerfield fence is quite large and kind of pushes into the field of play, resulting in a very short power alley that starts at 325 feet by the foul pole and running in a straight line to a mere 375 almost to dead center field. Between this short porch and the hot summer nights in Amarillo, left-hand hitters must drool before every at bat.
The scoreboard is one of the nicest I have seen in the minor leagues; large and bright and richly colorful. On this eventful night at the ballpark, it had much to report as both teams scored in every inning, resulting in an 11-10 Amarillo win. But get this, that was in just FIVE INNINGS, as the game was called after the 5th due to an incoming band of severe thunderstorms.
The team was kind enough to provide me with a press credential that gave me free reign to roam and I can report that the lounge behind home plate is both lovely and air-conditioned and the view from the 2nd level is outstanding. With excellent seating options for every manner of customer, precise attention to detail in both the design and finishes, and an entertaining game presentation, Hodgetown is certainly the place to be on a warm summer evening in north Texas.
I caught this home run ball off the bat of Frisco’s Justin Foscue in the top of the 1st. By “caught” I mean that the ball went clear out of the ballpark, landing on the lawn of City Hall across the street. Having a press pass, I simply walked out of the stadium, crossed the street, and picked it up. Then I waved my pass and strolled back into the ballpark.
The Sod Poodles Leandro Cedeno launches his 12th home run of the season, an opposite field shot to the short porch in right-centerfield to give Amarillo a 3-2 lead in the 1st inning.
Where They Played Before
Potter County Memorial Stadium
The Sod Poodles never actually played here, but before Hodgetown, the home of baseball in Amarillo was Potter County Memorial Stadium, which stands on the corner of the Tri-County Fairgrounds a few miles east of downtown. Opened in 1949, the stadium served as home to a number of minor league teams, most notably the Amarillo Gold Sox from 1959-1982. The stadium now stands derelict and overgrown, waiting for someone to decide what to do with it.