Building a new retractable-roof ballpark wasn’t necessarily the first choice for the Texas Rangers, but it soon became the only choice after a series of studies concluded that adding shade to Globe Life Park seating would be expensive, difficult and only partially effective.
We had alluded to these studies in previous coverage of the new Rangers ballpark (even going back to 2015), but the Rangers released more in-depth information about the efforts to bring more shade to fans. Going to a Rangers game at either Arlington Stadium or Globe Life Park has always been a matter of endurance, but these days fans who want the high-end experience aren’t going to put up with three solid hours in the hot Texas sun.
Several studies were launched to explore the addition of shading to the ballpark, both under the current Rangers ownership and under former owner Tom Hicks. The conclusion was that a retractable-roof would be inordinately expensive — some $325 million in 2007 — and require a massive infrastructure be added to the ballpark exterior. After that, the current owners engaged Populous to study how to bring sun relief to fans. The results were not exactly what the Rangers were looking for. From the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:
Populous worked with two Dallas firms — Walter P Moore structural engineering and Manhattan Construction — on the study.
They discovered that the trick would be to create shading that not only would provide relief for fans but also, at the bare minimum, provide the four to six hours of the sunlight needed to grow Bermuda grass, with morning sunlight being the best, Tangen said.
They studied various sizes — canopies that cast shadows on 25 percent to 95 percent of the ballpark’s fans — before settling on the option that extended out 83 to 110 feet and provided shade to at least 75 percent. (The current shade structure extends out 25 feet.) They also looked at where the sunlight hit during certain hours of the day during different times of the year.
The study found that during a day game on June 21, most season-ticket holders closest to the field would still be in the sun. But during a typical night game starting at 7 p.m., 84 percent would be shaded.
The sun would be shielded, but building the canopy would be a challenge, requiring several years of construction. Cranes would be required on the field to facilitate installation, and given that there really is only five months in the offseason these days, it would take years to finish the installation.
Rob Matwick, Rangers executive vice president for business operations, admit that giving up Globe Life Park was not an easy decision for the team: the ballpark certainly has its fans. But building a new ballpark, he says, is the only feasible solution. It also allows the team to pursue events 365 days a year, just like the Cowboys do at AT&T Stadium:
“Like they’ve done with their special-event business, I think that is the other piece here,” Matwick said. “The shade structure would not have made us any more viable in the winter for events, where the roof can.”
“We pursue business 365 days a year, and I think that is another piece that this particular study would not have addressed or solved.”
Images courtesy Populous.
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