With the opening of the 2019 season, the Texas Rangers are playing one last campaign at Globe Life Park. Many, including those responsible for its origins, will regret a move to a new ballpark.
You know the story: because of deficiencies in Globe Life Park, the Rangers are moving forward with Globe Life Field, opening in 2020. With a retractable roof, plenty of shade and a synthetic-turf playing field, Globe Life Field is pretty much the opposite of Globe Life Park, surely one of the most uncomfortable places to watch a game today in baseball. The Rangers spent a lot of money commissioning shade and roof studies before deciding to pursue a new ballpark, studying solutions like movable sun shades (not practical or efficient), improved air circulation, an extended canopy and a retrofitted retractable roof (pretty much impossible given the spread-out nature of the ballpark footprint). The need for shade and comfort led to Globe Life Field. Not that Globe Life Park is going away: it will be renovated to host spring professional baseball and other events.
Still, there will be many fans regretting the loss of Globe Life Park. Chief among the mourners: former owner Tom Schieffer, part of the group buying the team from Eddie Chiles. That group bought the Rangers to keep the team from a move to Tampa Bay, but they were buying a distressed asset. The team’s revenues were low, and they played at Arlington Stadium, a former Minor League Baseball facility expanded to meet MLB standards. Not the best of homes, to be sure.
So Schieffer and his fellow owners, which included future President George W. Bush, set out to work with Arlington officials on a new ballpark. To prove their commitment to the Texas market, the Rangers signed Nolan Ryan, a legitimate superstar and a great ambassador for the team. And The Ballpark at Arlington came to be, opening for the 1994 season. From the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:
The reason Arlington will soon have a new baseball stadium is the “need” for a roof, so fans can sit in the greatest creation man ever invented: Air conditioning. Schieffer says neither he nor Bush wanted any part of a dome, or a roof, for their stadium.
“George grew up going to games at the Astrodome and we both felt like baseball should be played outside,” Schieffer said….
Shortly after Tom Hicks bought the team in the summer of ‘98, he added a club behind home plate. It eventually added a “ribbon” board that essentially encompasses the ring of the decks for electronic advertising.
“You could have done things to keep that park. It’s not a bad park; the air circulation is so much diffferent now,” Schieffer said. “That advertising ribbon generates an enormous amount of heat, and it comes right down on top of the fans. When we had those ‘slots’ around the stadium, the air moved and kept fans cool. And you just can’t play a day game there in June or August. Baseball is not an endurance sport.”
No, it’s not. Not for the fans, either.
Rendering courtesy Texas Rangers and HKS.
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