ARLINGTON — The Texas Rangers are putting more boom into their concessions for the 2013 season offering fans even more oversized food items that are sure to be a home run with gluttons, but containing enough fat and sodium to make nutritionists balk.Club officials on Thursday unveiled a menu featuring new variations on the Boomstick a 24-inch goliath of a hot dog with enough chili, cheese and other toppings to feed four or five people. Beginning with the home opener April 5 against the Los Angeles Angels, those popular mega dogs can also be topped with brisket, or polish sausage and sauerkraut.For burger fans, a new Beltre Buster named after third baseman Adrian Beltre features a pound of beef and eight ounces of bacon. Theres also a 24-inch Murph-a-Dilla quesadilla named after outfielder David Murphy, and steak sandwiches featuring meat provided by team executive Nolan Ryans company.Club officials declined to provided nutritional information on the new offerings.We dont count calories, quipped Shawn Mattox, general manager of concessionaire Delaware North Companies Sportservices Metroplex office. He added that the concept of such large dishes is not to create a dish so big that fans challenge each other to an eating contest. Rather, he said, the idea is for friends and family members attending the game together to order one giant item and share it.No one even ventured a guess at how many beers it would take to wash any of this down.Dont eat them aloneHealth experts agreed with the Rangers and warned that anyone who attempts to eat one of these larger-than-life entrees at the concessions stand could get more than a tummy ache.Although nutrition information wasnt provided by the team, one dietician estimated that one Beltre Buster burger contained roughly 2,800 calories, 185 grams of fat and 6,000 milligrams of sodium. Thats more calories than a healthy adult male should eat in an entire day, plus more than double the fat and nearly triple the recommended sodium intake.For people with high-blood pressure or other health problems, regularly eating such food could be extremely dangerous, said Amy Goodson, a registered dietitian for Texas Health Ben Hogan Sports Medicine.If you have season tickets to the ballpark, this is not what you should be eating, Goodson said. But if you go to a game every couple of months, and youre sharing with friends, its OK to splurge a little.Goodson, who has also worked as a team dietician for the Rangers during the past five years, noted that while fans enjoy a bit of excessive eating in the stands, the players on the field rarely indulge in such fare. On game days, their meals usually involve high-protein, low-fat dishes featuring pasta and other healthful carbohydrates.To avoid overindulgence, Goodson recommends that fans drink lots of water and eat a healthful snack such as trail mix before heading out to the ballpark, to avoid eating ravenously in the stands.But most of all, she said, for those who order anything measuring 24 inches long, please dont attempt to eat it alone.Great temptationBut the temptation may be too great for fans arriving at the remodeled lower concourse.Behind home plate, new concession stands include: Texas Sized 24, featuring the 24-inch hot dogs and oversized burgers and quesadillas; Homeplate Alehouse, which serves craft beers; and Casa De Fuego, which features a En Fuego Flauta plate.Other ballpark improvements include wider dugouts and camera bays, a new retail store stocked with 95 percent new clothing and souvenirs and a concession stand down the first base line called The Chipper, which features potato chips made on-site, and available in exotic flavors.Outside the ballpark, concession vender Delaware North Companies Sportservice is rolling out a food truck that will sell items normally available only inside the ballparks walls. The food truck, known as Ballpark Express, will be in the parking areas on Opening Day and is also available for catering at private functions.Open-air viewIn addition to the new food fare, fans arriving at the ballpark will find several changes to the physical structure of the place that could take some of the boom out of opponents bats.For example, a new row of seats has been added behind home plate, dramatically shrinking the amount of space between the batters box and the backstop.But perhaps the most noticeable change for batters is on the lower level behind home plate.As part of the renovations to the mezzanine level private club now dubbed the Capital One Club a wall on the lower level directly behind home plate has been removed and tall tables installed. The result is an open-air view of the game action for fans entering from the home plate gates.But another consequence of the reconstruction could be a reduction in the jet stream that is known to carry pop flies over the right field fence. So, could the changes lead to fewer home runs at the ballpark?Hopefully, it will eliminate the jet stream, Rangers spokesman John Blake said.Rob Matwick, Rangers vice president of ballpark operations, also said club officials hope that the new air flow will help cool off fans behind home plate during the dog days of summer.Hopefully, it will keep those fans comfortable behind home plate, Matwick said.
Gordon Dickson, 817-390-7796; Twitter: @gdickson