Now a month into the inaugural season for the Cleburne Railroaders in the American Association, it’s clear how important bringing baseball to a community just 30 miles south of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex has already been.
On opening night, the Railroaders drew over 3,600 people to The Depot at Cleburne Station — a ballpark that only houses 1,740 reserved seats. And in every home game since, the Railroaders have drawn over 1,000 fans to the community’s publically-funded $25 million project.
“We’re excited to have baseball back in the community of Cleburne,” said general manager Robbie Fenyes. “It’s obviously a very exciting time and we’re very impressed with the way the community has already show support for the club and the stadium.”
The official vote on funding the stadium drew the largest voter turnout for any project in Cleburne’s history, and won the voters’ approval by a 3-to-1 count. Construction began on the stadium midway through 2016, and the American Association granted the Railroaders an expansion slot in October of last year, the stadium was just about finished in time for the defending-champion Winnipeg Goldeyes to open a four-game series on May 18.
Through 18 games, the Railroaders are averaging 1,738 fans — just about the number of reserved seats and a healthy chunk of the approximately 29,000 people who live in the Cleburne area.
“It’s been fun to play for these fans and in this community,” first-year manager Gabe Suarez said. “The fans come out every night, they’re rowdy, and they make for a great experience at the stadium. It’s been a lot of fun already.”
Of course, people from outside of Cleburne have made a trek to The Depot. The Chisholm Trail Parkway allows people from the Fort Worth area to get down to Cleburne in less than 30 minutes, and fans from Grandview, Burleson and Glen Rose all have professional baseball just a few miles down the road.
For those people to get into DFW and get to Globe Life Park — home of the Texas Rangers — it’d take at least an hour of driving during peak hours.
And with a premier location within all of the surrounding communities, the Railroaders have already taken off in ways not even the management could have imagined.
“We’re excited not only with where the Railroaders are now, but where the club can go,” Fenyes said. “The community of Cleburne is a great place to have baseball like this.”