Texas Rangers clamping down on tailgaters who don't attend games

Posted Thursday, Mar. 28, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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ARLINGTON - As Texas Rangers club officials said Thursday, it's a good problem to have.

With two World Series appearances during the past three years, Arlington's pro baseball team is so popular in North Texas that it's now common on big game days for thousands of fans to show up and tailgate outside the park -- even if they don't have any intention of going to the game.

As a result, officials said that, when the Rangers open their home schedule April 5 against the Los Angeles Angels, only vehicles carrying passengers with tickets will be allowed access to the parking lots.

Team officials don't want a repeat of Opening Day last year, when many Rangers ticket holders arrived with no place to park -- and ended up walking a half-mile or more from remote lots west of Cowboys Stadium.

"The public safety estimates were that 10,000 to 20,000 people were just out on our lots having a party," said Rob Matwick, Rangers vice president of ballpark operations. "It's a good problem to have. They paid for parking. But we had customers who paid for tickets who couldn't get in."

Matwick said the new parking rule, which was announced Thursday along with some other tailgating restrictions, would be in effect throughout the season. But, he stressed that the rule would probably only be enforced on Opening Day, or during postseason play if the Rangers make the playoffs.

"We don't want to be too heavy-handed with it," he said. "We just want to use some common sense."

Some fans who learned of the tailgating restrictions wondered whether they would cause more harm than good.

Skip Loonan, a Rangers fan who on Tuesday was dining at Boomerjack's Grill & Bar about a mile west of the ballpark, predicted that checking motorists' tickets at the parking lot entrances would create gridlock.

He also noted that fans wishing to pick up their tickets at a ballpark will-call window could be denied parking access.

"It's going to be a nightmare," said Loonan, who is retired. "I don't think they've thought through how to manage it."

But Rangers team officials they were working on a strategy to minimize those potential delays. One option for dealing with will-call customers, they said, might be to provide parking attendants with a list of people who can be allowed in without tickets.

"Will call" customers also may be strongly encouraged to pick up their tickets before game day, Matwick said.

Examples of other parking lot restrictions:

Tailgating is allowed in grassy areas, not parking spaces, from the time parking lots open until the end of the second inning. Postgame tailgating is allowed for two hours after the final out.

Charcoal and gas cooking is allowed, but open-flame fires and deep fryers aren't. Charcoal must be disposed in designated containers.

Amplified sound systems are allowed, but with sound levels at management's discretion.

Gordon Dickson, 817-390-7796

Twitter: @gdickson

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