Other schools have tried to follow Rice baseball's lead, often building bigger and more expensive stadiums, but Reckling Park remains the best place to watch and play a college game.
The 2015 season is now the Owls' 16th at the stadium. Rice has won an eye-opening 79.7 percent of its more than 530 games at Reckling Park since opening its doors for the 2000 season.
The facility will be better than ever after its next scheduled renovation, a state-of-the-art upgrade to the sports medicine area. The new training room will help ensure the Owls undergo any treatments in the very best environment.
Last season a custom wood trophy case befitting the program's storied success was installed in the front office. The stadium conference room was also remodeled to include program accolades and oversized murals of some of the best players in school history.
In 2013 a display honoring Owl great Philip Humber's major league perfect game was added near the front entrance. Other renovations over the years included the remodeling of the team's locker room, weight room and fan areas. A new playing surface and state-of-the-art drainage system, as well as a padded outfield wall and warning track that surrounds the entire field, were added to improve player safety. A classic black cast-iron fence that circles the perimeter was another recent addition.
For the fans, a grass berm and bleachers were added beyond the left field wall in 2008. A hospitality plaza on the third-base side and a sensational scoreboard with video display are fan-favorites. These improvements give Rice student-athletes a venue befitting its status as one of the top programs in the nation. Large crowds, like the more than 5,200 fans that came to watch the home Texas game last season, are not uncommon.
The park features a picturesque setting on the Rice campus facing the Texas Medical Center, the comfort of the more than 3,700 chairback seats (most with cup holders) and nine private suites. There are spacious locker rooms and the best press box in college baseball. Every visitor has raved about Reckling Park.
Rice baseball is completely housed in the facility. Head coach Wayne Graham and his assistants work in a spacious office suite that includes their private locker room, equipment storage areas and clerical areas.
For the players, the Rice clubhouse is one of the best anywhere, adjacent to the weight and aerobic workout areas and athletic training room. In 2004, a new climate-controlled indoor hitting and pitching practice facility was constructed under the third base stands. On game day, the Owls and their guests use some of the largest dugouts in the country. Visiting teams and umpires also have use of large, functional locker room areas.
Rice has averaged more than 3,200 fans per game the last ten seasons, ranking among the top draws in the nation. Those fans have access to a host of wide concession areas, a large novelty shop and clean rest rooms.
For the media, the Reckling Park press box may be the largest in an on-campus stadium in the country. There are three radio booths, a television booth/photo deck and an area for more than 30 working writers and game personnel. In addition, the press box includes a large interview room, hospitality areas and a workroom for game officials.
Located on the southwest corner of the university campus near Tudor Fieldhouse, Reckling Park was built on the site of Cameron Field, Rice's baseball home from 1978 through 1999. The old stadium was demolished at the close of the 1999 season and work began immediately on Reckling.
An improvement to Cameron that has lived on at Reckling is the enclosed batting cage area down the right-field line. That facility was dedicated to the memory of Earl "Lefty" Graham, a longtime umpire in the Houston area and the father of the Rice coach. Reckling Park measures 330 feet down the lines, 400 feet to center field, and 375 feet to the power alleys.
A then-sellout crowd of 4,117 watched the first game played in the new park in 2000. Rice won 21-of-31 games at the venue last year. The Owls' 36 wins in 2002 stands as the most home wins in Rice history.
Guy Jackson of Jackson & Ryan Architects, a Rice alumnus and former baseball letterman, was the principal designer of the stadium, and it was built by Miner-Dederich Constructors.