Longtime RedHawk fans Bart Cooper and Steve Knapp of Oklahoma City were grazing along the concourse at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark on Thursday night, letting their noses guide them to the new delicacies the ballpark had to offer.
“We are like vultures right now trying to pick up the best pieces of meat,” Knapp said. “It's all tantalizing.”
The two Oklahoma City men were more interested in the food than the game.
“Baseball is just an inconsequential part of the entire event for me,” Cooper said.
The RedHawks opened the 2012 season Thursday night at their newly named ballpark, losing 4-3 to the Memphis Redbirds, but the biggest hit of the night was the food.
The RedHawks introduced and entirely new menu of food items with promises it would be better and fresher than in the past. All of the fans interviewed by The Oklahoman on Thursday night gave the new ballpark food a thumbs up.
Jim and Cheryl Sanders of Midwest City have made six straight opening nights at the ballpark and noticed an immediate difference upon arriving Thursday night.
“You can smell the food now,” said Jim Sanders, who selected his own ingredients for a burrito at the new “Salsa” kiosk. “It's hot and fresh.”
His wife agreed that the new ballpark food was better than in the past.
“I think it's definitely an upgrade,” she said. “You have a lot more choices.”
Other fans also had trouble choosing what to taste. Steve Tanner of Oklahoma City and his buddies couldn't decide between the Salsa and the “Smokies” kiosks where foot long hot dogs and brats were being grilled with fresh peppers and onions.
“We were kind of torn between two lovers,” Tanner said.
Finally, they decided on the Smokies stand where Tanner said his foot long hot dog was much better than any he had before at the ballpark.
“The dog was juicy and great,” he said. “Usually, I don't eat the whole thing, but this one was real good.”
Even though the food lines seemed long, most fans said it took less time than in the past to get their food because there were more options.
Jack Clark of Norman opted for a Philly cheesesteak at the new Steakadelphia stand down the right field line.
“The bun is soft and fresh,” he said. “I wouldn't trade a Jersey Mike's for it, but for ballpark food, it's pretty good.”
Fans can now see the popcorn being made and it also tastes fresher, said Jill Sweazy, a RedHawks fan and popcorn lover from Edmond.
“But I would like popcorn even if it's 10 days old,” she said.
Cooper tried a regular hot dog then decided to sample one of the most hyped items, the Porker or Memphis Dog. It's a sandwich with pulled pork, coleslaw and barbecue sauce with a hot dog at the bottom.
On a scale of 1 to 10, Cooper gave it an 8.
“It should come with a caution,” he said. “Extra napkins needed. Messiness was its only drawback, but it's worth it.”
But no matter how popular the new food was among fans, the longest lines in the ballpark were still at the beer stands.