Stadium renovations, improvements and upgrades have been one constant Texas Rangers fans could count on the past three years at the Ballpark.From a state-of-the-art video board to a new fan-friendly center field area to enhanced concessions, the Rangers have focused on making the baseball experience enjoyable for fans of all ages and interest levels.The Rangers are in the center of an entertainment haven, of course, with Cowboys Stadium and Six Flags each within a few hundred yards.“Fans expect more and it’s a competitive business,” said Rob Matwick, the Rangers’ executive vice president of ballpark and event operations.“We want fans to get the best experience possible at Rangers Ballpark. The organization is about giving a quality product, both on and off the field.”The Rangers have spent more than $35 million in ballpark renovations the past three seasons, including a series of upgrades this off-season.Matwick said Rangers Ballpark might have been behind the curve before the initial renovation after the 2010 season, but it has steadily grown to rival the best ballparks in the country.Matwick hinted there might be one or two more significant renovations coming next winter, but wasn’t ready to reveal them publicly.As far as the renovations this past winter, Matwick said: “Construction went well and everything stayed on schedule. There were no surprises that came up, which we were really pleased with.”Here is a look at the $12 million in upgrades – which dropped the seating capacity from 48,194 to 48,114 – fans can look forward to this season:* New home-plate seats: A third row of home-plate seats, 52 in all, were added in front of the two existing rows of premium seats. The seats decreased the distance from the home-plate screen to the plate from 52 feet, 8 inches, to 50 feet, one inch.* Wider dugouts and camera bays: The first and third base side dugouts and camera bays were moved in approximately three feet, allowing wider space in both areas. It decreased foul territory in these areas to 42 feet, 6 inches from the front of the inside camera bays to the foul lines.* New Capital One Club: The existing private club located on the mezzanine level behind home plate has been renovated and expanded, as well as renamed the Capital One Club. It includes new cooking areas, bars and dining room space. The number of permanent seats has increased from 76 to 104.* Main concourse concessions: The existing concessions stands located on the main concourse behind home plate have been renovated to display cooking areas, similar to what was done in Vandergriff Plaza in center field last winter. The existing entrance to what is now the Capital One Club and the seating area in Section 126 was removed, giving fans entering the ballpark through the home-plate gate a wide-open view of the playing field. The removal of the Section 126 seating was the bulk of the reason the overall seating capacity dropped.* New retail store: A new Rangers merchandise store is located in the space where the west box office existed. The first-base box office is now the ballpark’s primary box office.* New concession locations: New concessions stands have been added to the south end of the new retail store and along the outer wall of the main concourse on the third-base side. These locations will feature state-of-the-art cooking equipment and additional points of sale, which should ease congestion along the main concourse on the first and third base sides.
Drew Davison, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @drewdavison