The Texas Rangers and the City of Arlington are planning a new retractable-roof ballpark to replace Globe Life Park, as the team decides to directly address perhaps the worst thing about attending a home ballgame: the hot Texas sun.
MLB sources confirmed the plan, but it’s not at all a surprise: late last year we were reporting on the possibility of a new retractable-roof ballpark for the Rangers based on talk at the Winter Meetings. A future press conference will address issues like financing and probable cost (between $600 million and $700 million, most likely), as well as a potential opening date.
Anyone who has attended a Rangers home game knows it can be a miserable experience, especially during a day game. The Rangers are the only team to have regularly scheduled Sunday night games; that’s because Major League Baseball officials realize the team won’t draw too many fans on a July, August or September 1:05 p.m. game. (Not too much fun for the players, either.) The team had researched alternatives over the years to provide relief to fans, including moving sunscreens, but with the team’s lease at Globe Life Park coming up in 2023, the planning in recent months has centered on a new ballpark — and Arlington officials committed to the project when it became clear the suburb could lose the Rangers to Dallas. (With bonds on AT&T Stadium scheduled to be paid off in 2021, this gave Arlington an advantage in shifting existing revenues to be bonds and opening the new ballpark before the Globe Life Park lease ends.)
The city had already committed to the Rangers in the form of Texas Live!, a $200 million development near the ballpark. Original plans called for construction to begin on the dining and entertainment space this month, with the work on the hotel project beginning later. Now every component of the project will start simultaneously, with parts of the development slated to be in place in 2018. On its current schedule, the hotel will be ready for occupancy by the start of the Rangers’ 2019 season. And in plenty of time to be ready for a new ballpark to open in the vicinity, although the location of the new ballpark will likely affect the design and eventual location of Texas Live!; hence the delay.
One issue that will stick in the craw of many Arlington taxpayers: Globe Life Park opened in 1994 with a reasonable $191 million price tag. Now, one could argue the facility was fatally flawed when it opened; one can also argue that an MLB ballpark should last longer than 30 years. But when the bonds are paid off, all bets are off as well.