You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks


Welcome to

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on

For the Express, there’s nothing quite like opening a season at home

An 8-foot, 800-pound statue of Nolan Ryan will greet fans outside the home plate entrance to Dell Diamond. A lush green playing field and a new sound system have been installed inside the ballpark, along with two additional dining areas.

The Round Rock Express assembled for a workout Tuesday on media day, and next up is opening night on Thursday against the Nashville Sounds.

“We did about our 17th walk-through this morning. We’re ready,” Express president Chris Almendarez said. “Our advance sales are good for the opening series. I expect we’ll have our best crowd Friday night with the fireworks and the start of the weekend.”

The Express expect about 9,000 fans Thursday night and close to 10,000 on Friday and Saturday nights before dropping off for the Sunday matinee. The weather forecast is immaculate for the weekend.

Round Rock opened on the road two of the last three years despite being a warm-weather club, but Pacific Coast League officials have stressed the scheduling complexity of a 16-team, geographically far-flung league that covers three time zones.

The Express led the PCL in home attendance last year, averaging 8,637 tickets sold, and are excited to throw the first pitch at home.

“I think there’s more buzz when you start close to Major League Baseball’s Opening Day,” Almendarez said. “When you’re removed from that by a week, you lose some pizzazz.”

Outfielder Travis Snider, a first-time member of the Express who played in Omaha last year, said, “It makes more sense to open in the warm-weather cities like Round Rock. This is much better than freezing.”

The Express will serve up the heat, the new field, the Austin-based Big House Sound system and these additions:

  • Nolan Ryan’s Beef Fireball Grill in the outfield, with a mini-beer garden.
  • The Hall of Fame Grille in the Intel Club, featuring memorabilia from Ryan’s playing career, signed balls from Joe DiMaggio, Sandy Koufax and other greats.
  • LED lights throughout the stadium and parking lots.
  • Wallpads around the field as a safety measure.
  • Two new retail locations, one down the third-base line and another near the right-field entrance.

Short hops: Manager Jason Wood said Tyler Wagner, 26, who made his big league debut for the Diamondbacks in 2016, will be the Express’ starting pitcher Thursday night. … Keone Kela, 23, who spent the last two years with the Rangers, is the team’s closer, with R.J. Alvarez as his primary setup man. … Texas State alum Jason Martinson, who spent seven years in the Nationals organization, will be the super-utility player and is likely to play nearly every day in the infield.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Sports

Commitment 101: Rondale Moore, wide receiver
Commitment 101: Rondale Moore, wide receiver

Texas’ recruiting class grew to 12 members Sunday when four-star wide receiver Rondale Moore committed to the Longhorns. The 5-foot-8.5 slot receiver from Trinity High School in Kentucky joins Florida’s Justin Watkins as the two wide receiver commits in the class. Moore was offered by Texas May 22, visited the campus last weekend and committed...
Riley's journey: East Carolina success, Oklahoma coaching job
Riley's journey: East Carolina success, Oklahoma coaching job

Like a lot of 26-year-olds, Lincoln Riley was looking for a job in the winter of 2010. Texas Tech head coach Mike Leach had been fired because of a player mistreatment scandal, and his staff was let go, too. For Riley, who had spent eight years at Texas Tech moving up the ladder from walk-on quarterback to student assistant to graduate assistant to...
Bruno leads Iowa to win over Round Rock

Stephen Bruno hit a three-run home run in the seventh inning, leading the Iowa Cubs to a 10-5 win over the Round Rock Express on Saturday at Dell Diamond. The home run by Bruno gave the Cubs a 9-5 lead and capped a five-run inning for Iowa. Earlier in the inning, Iowa tied the game when Jeimer Candelario hit an RBI double and then took the lead when...
Round Rock-San Antonio hookup a win-win, PCL’s Branch Rickey says
Round Rock-San Antonio hookup a win-win, PCL’s Branch Rickey says

The man who runs the Pacific Coast League and carries considerable gravitas in the baseball world said his league hit a home run with San Antonio landing a team in 2019. Longtime PCL President Branch B. Rickey, grandson of the iconic Hall of Fame executive of the same name, told the American-Statesman that having a franchise in Texas’ second-largest...
Lance Armstrong, U.S. government spar over upcoming trial evidence
Lance Armstrong, U.S. government spar over upcoming trial evidence

Lance Armstrong’s $100 million fraud trial is months away, yet his fight with the U.S. government and former teammate-turned-rival Floyd Landis is heating up. Armstrong wants to bar testimony and evidence from some of his most dogged critics, including the blistering U.S. Anti-Doping Agency report that led to his downfall and former Tour de France...
More Stories