The Texas Rangers could begin playing in a new ballpark with a retractable roof as soon as 2020, co-managing partner Ray Davis said Tuesday night after Arlington voters approved a measure that would create $500 million to help finance the $1 billion project.
The Rangers are hopeful that they will have an agreement with an architect to begin designing the new facility, which will be built across Randol Mill Road from Globe Life Park and in conjunction with the Texas Live! entertainment district.
Globe Life Park opened in 1994 and would be only 25 years old for its final season. The Rangers, though, have noted that it’s becoming more and more difficult and expensive to operate the ballpark because technology has advanced so much.
But Davis didn’t pull any punches at the Arlington Hilton, where a party broke out just after 9 p.m.
“That wasn’t the driving force,” he said. “The driving force was having a climate-controlled environment. You’re competing with people staying home and watching it on TV. You’ve got to give them an environment where families want to come.”
An increased fan base would have a significant impact on the on-field product, which had no room in the political discussion leading up to Election Night. There’s room now, though.
Davis said yet again that the money that he and the ownership group will use to fund their half of the public-private financing arrangement will not affect the baseball operations. If there’s a free agent the Rangers need to have, the budget won’t be crippled by construction.
More butts in the seats will create more revenue and expand the baseball budget.
Of course, there will be fewer fans — roof or not — if the Rangers don’t remain competitive.
“Long-term it helps and will hopefully attract more fans and Texas Live! will create revenue and we can afford the more expensive ballplayers Jeff wants,” Davis said.
The Jeff in questions is manager Jeff Banister, who has seen what a roof can do for his team when they visit ballparks with climate control — Seattle, Houston, Toronto, Tampa Bay and, occasionally, Milwaukee.
Rain is a factor at all five parks. Rain and heat are factors at Minute Maid Park in Houston and Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. Banister, though, said that relief from the heat is just one of the benefits.
“The No. 1 benefit is you know you’re going to play, so it’s the consistency of routine,” Banister said. “You know that the fan base is going to be there for you. The conditions are always going to be great. You’re going to get your work in. These guys are going to be able to go out in a climate that’s going to allow them to perform at their highest level.”
Often when a ballpark is about to be replaced, teams stop putting money into it and it become a bit messy the final year. Rob Matwick, who oversees ballpark operations as executive vice president of business operations, said that the owners are committed keeping Globe Life Park in tip-top shape.
The Rangers won’t invest in significant projects, like a new videoboard or a redo of Vandergriff Plaza, but the ballpark won’t start falling apart either. The club also plans to refurbish Globe Life after the new ballpark opens
“We still have tenants in the building, a retail store and we still have to play baseball there,” Matwick said. “We will still continue to maintain the building at a very high standard. We owe that to our customers.”
And their voters on Tuesday night.