For those who need to see a major sporting event, the big-time professional franchises are just down the road (a three-hour drive in Texas terms). San Antonio, Dallas, and Houston all have top-tier teams, and most Austinites pick and choose their sports allegiances based on their regional backgrounds or history with a franchise and its fan base.
The closest Austin gets to professional sports is the Round Rock Express (Dell Diamond, 3400 E. Palm Valley Blvd., 512/255-2255, www.roundrockexpress.com), a minor league affiliate of the Houston Astros. Since the Express were promoted from AA level classification to AAA (just a step below the major leagues), fans have been treated to quality baseball with plenty of impressive hustle from burgeoning stars.
Dell Diamond is a charming and comfy place to watch a game, and even non-fanatics can enjoy the pleasant atmosphere and amusing high jinks of minor league games (kids running the base paths, fans dancing on the dugout, various races on the field).
Locals are also warming up to the Austin Toros (512/236-8333, www.nba.com/dleague/austin), the relatively new NBA Development League minor league team affiliated with the San Antonio Spurs. The Toros play at the downtown Austin Convention Center from November through April.
© Andy Rhodes from Moon Texas, 6th Edition