TULSA — The Tulsa Drillers have played a big role in the revitalization of downtown Tulsa.
ONEOK Field is located in the historic Greenwood District, an area that is bounded by I-244 on the north, Elgin Avenue on the west, Greenwood Avenue on the east and the Frisco tracks on the south.
Some say its one of minor league baseball’s finest.
It was designed by Populous (formerly HOK Sports), which has designed Busch Stadium III, Camden Yard and Yankee Stadium as well as Arvest Ballpark, home of the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, the Drillers’ Northern Division rivals in the Texas League.
This is Tulsa’s second season as the Double-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
While the history of baseball in Tulsa dates back to the turn of the century, the current incarnation began in 1977.
A. Ray Smith moved the Tulsa Oilers to New Orleans following the 1976 season. The franchise moved to Tulsa from Lafayette, Louisiana, prior to the 1977 campaign.
The Drillers, who also have been an affiliate of the Texas Rangers (1977-2002) and Colorado Rockies (2003-present), began seeking a replacement of old Driller Park, located in the Tulsa Fairgrounds.
The team signed a non-binding letter of intent to move to Jenks, but then-mayor Kathy Taylor spearheaded an effort to keep the team in Tulsa.
The official groundbreaking was on Jan. 12, 2009 and the first game was played April 8, 2010.
Like most of the newer ballparks, ONEOK Field offers an impressive view of downtown Tulsa — including a revolving U-Haul truck perched atop its downtown Tulsa facility that can be seen over the left field fence.
It’s also home of the Tulsa Roughnecks FC of the United Soccer League.
The official capacity is 7,833, but 9,417 were shoehorned into the park for a 2010 Bedlam Series game between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.
In addition to Bedlam, the park hosted the 2015 Big 12 Championship.
Ivan Rodrigues, who will be induced into the National Baseball Hall of Fame this month, played for the Drillers in 1991.
Other Driller alumni include Sammy Sosa, Juan Gonzalez, R.A. Dickey, and Mark Teixeira during the years with the Texas Rangers and Jeff Francis, Troy Tulowitzki and Dexter Fowler during the time as a Colorado Rockies affiliate.
ONEOK Field has 23 luxury suites as well as numerous other perks that have become part of major and minor league ballparks.
Concession stands are located throughout the ballpark and offer standard fare.
In a tribute to their Los Angeles affiliation, Dodger Dogs ($5) — a 10-inch pork wiener wrapped in a steamed bun, is sold.
There’s also Driller Dogs ($4), chili cheese fries ($5), mac and cheese bites ($5), burgers ($7), wraps and salads.
Soda is $5 and 20-ounce beer is $6.
If you go to a game, make note that only cash is accepted at most of the concession areas.
All of the ticket prices on the team’s website (tulsadrillers.com) are $1 more because of new legislation placing a fee on professional sports tickets.
The only noticeable problem with ONEOK Field is parking. There are several municipal lots around the park, but they cost $10.
Jim Ellis is sports editor of the Miami News-Record. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 918-542-508, ext. 3052. Follow him on Twitter @mnrsportsguy.