The Texas Rangers unveiled all the details for a new retractable-roof ballpark to replace Globe Life Park, and it’s a doozy – a price tag of a billion dollars, a capacity between 42,000 and 44,000, a 2021 opening and a 30-year team commitment to Arlington.
The proposal isn’t a surprise – there were rumors about the Rangers planning a new ballpark dating back to last year, and before that the team had explored methods for providing more shade at Globe Life Park, including movable shades – but the goal is clear: to provide a better fan experience for Rangers games. Doming Globe Life Park had been deemed as financially unfeasible years ago by previous owner Tom Hicks, and it has been pretty clear for a long time that the only practical solution to the fan-experience problem was a new ballpark.
Especially in Texas, where everything is oversized and there’s a huge, climate-controlled stadium not too far from the Rangers’ home – an imposing presence both literally and metaphorically. But the contrast between Globe Life Park and the new ballpark is stark: Globe Life Park opened in 1994 at a cost of $191 million (a little over $300 million in today’s dollars), but the design didn’t anticipate the need for a retractable roof.
The Skydome – now Rogers Centre – opened in 1989 with its unique retractable-roof design, and the first wave of climate-controlled MLB ballparks with a retractable roof launched in 1998 with the opening of Chase Field. Not all retractable-roof ballparks are climate controlled: Safeco Field’s roof is more akin to an umbrella and features no heat or air conditioning, while Chase Field and Marlins Park features air conditioning.
The proposal from the team and the city is pretty straightforward. The pair would split the cost of the new ballpark, but residents wouldn’t pay any new taxes, as the taxes used to fund AT&T Stadium (a half-cent sales tax, 5 percent car rental tax and 2 percent hotel tax) would be extended to cover new-ballpark construction. The bonds on AT&T Stadium are scheduled to be paid off seven years early – just in time to back the bonds on a new ballpark.
Now, not all of the details for the ballpark have been worked out (hence the lack of specificity in the capacity; also, be warned that the renderings here are conceptual and probably won’t be exactly like the final version that opens in 2021), but we do have a location: The new ballpark would be built on what is now a team parking lot south of the existing ballpark, south of Randol Mill Road. And we expect to see lots of other details taken from SunTrust Park: to say that the design of the Atlanta Braves home opening next year is generating a lot of buzz in the industry would be an understatement.
“The Texas Rangers are a part of our fabric, a part of our DNA,” said Arlington Mayor W. Jeff Williams. “The City Council and I have heard the message loud and clear: our citizens want the Texas Rangers to stay in Arlington. No doubt any city would want the Rangers. We want to be proactive and continue this 45-year relationship, which has been so successful for us, for the team and the North Texas region. This is where they belong and this deal keeps them here for generations to come.”
“The Rangers and Arlington have enjoyed a great partnership for 45 years, and we are excited about the possibility of calling this City home for many years to come,” said Texas Rangers Co-Chairman Ray Davis. “A baseball park is a very special place and the Rangers are committed to providing the best possible experience for our fans. The construction of a new facility with a retractable roof and so many other amenities would allow us to enhance that experience in a manner that is not presently possible. This new project is a home run for the Rangers, our fans and the City.”
Still to be determined: The future of Globe Life Park, with options including office development (probably augmenting the office space that currently exists past center field), park space, parking and a possible extension to the Texas Live! project.
Things are moving fast on this project: The Arlington City Council is set to begin discussions on the project at tomorrow’s scheduled meeting. If approved, the extension of the taxes will go before voters this fall.
Images courtesy Texas Rangers.
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