Keeping alive the tradition set by the legends of the original American Association—where players such as Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays once toed the batter's box, before the league was absorbed by the professional ranks—the Grand Prairie AirHogs take the diamond to face off against rivals. As part the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball, the club brought sandlot glory to their fans in 2011, when they won the Association's championship. Mirroring the on-field excitement, the new QuikTrip Park turns each outing into a memorable shindig with a party deck, a 17,000-square-foot kids' zone, and a pool adjacent to the outfield. Between innings, fans can fuel up at the stadium’s sports bar or leapfrog over each of the park’s 5,445 seats.
A coalition of ice arenas endorsed by the Dallas Stars, Dr Pepper StarCenters help nurture athletes of all ages and skill levels with activities on or off the ice. Dr Pepper StarCenters house NHL-regulation ice-hockey rinks that host hockey leagues for players of all ages, eradicating the need to play on dangerous frozen lakes dotted with irritable frozen geese. StarCenters' skate academies instill students with the fundamentals of ice hockey or figure skating, allowing them to progress to hockey leagues and local skating competitions if they choose. To warm up after laps around the Euless ice rink, skaters can check out the onsite baseball stadium, batting cages, soccer fields, and Texas Star Golf Course. All locations are open for birthday parties and special events; see each location's website for details.
Aqua Angels' parent-child swimming classes teach four-month to four-year-old land-limbed kids to cut through the water at the Kirby Creek Indoor Pool. During six 30-minute sessions, mother and Red Cross instructor Alex will lead small groups of parents and children according to her swim syllabus. Aqua Angels' lessons reacquaint children with their previously watery existence in an effort to foster confidence, increase physical strength, and make it possible to easily navigate sewer systems. Doggy-paddling parents need not fear—pools are shallow and easy to navigate.
A 36-month-old strokes his arms through clear water as his mother gently holds him afloat with her hands. Over the past few swim sessions, the little student has learned to submerge his face in the water and float on his belly as well as his back. After he and his fellow swimmers finish their parent/baby swimester, it's likely they may never experience the fear of swimming that many children begin to encounter around age 3. This type of insight into the developmental importance of swimming is what informs the instruction at Swim-U, Leesburg's child-oriented swimming school. The school's curriculum opens its lessons to newborns as young as 6 months old and to kids up to age 12 to instill water skills and the joys of fitness swimming from a young age. The Swim-U team comprises upbeat swimming professors who are the brains behind the company's special brand of instruction in swimming, as well as in child CPR and first-aid training and dunk-tank pitching.
As the centerpiece of a 270-acre complex in Arlington, Rangers Ballpark has played host to the city's professional baseball team since 1994. In center field, a four-story office building serves as one of the most unique backdrops in baseball, and in right field, a home-run porch and two-tiered seating section harken back to the structures of classic parks. New in 2012, the Captain Morgan Club makes its debut in center field, bringing a two-story sports bar and restaurant to the park. The adjacent Kids Zone challenges miniature and pintsize fans with interactive games, a large climbing clubhouse complete with baseball-bat slide, and other activities.
Taxi's BBQ & Catering’s chefs slow-smoke tender Texas-style brisket, ribs, and chicken on-location to spice up parties and special events. Homestyle sides complement barbecue entrees and range from potato salad to baked beans to Taxi's taters—chive mashed potatoes crowned with cheddar cheese and bacon. Taxi’s hickory-smoked cuisine is also available for carryout and delivery for those incapable of using forks in the presence of others.