If you build a $250 million restaurant/entertainment/hotel complex, will people come?
That question did not initially enter my mind when I was assigned to check out all the restaurants at Texas Live!, which opened to great fanfare in August in Arlington. I know, rough assignment — but checking out all the restaurants at the development, which is kitty-corner to Globe Life Park, turned out to be trickier than it appeared on the surface.
To answer the introductory question, if the Dallas Cowboys are playing an away game, as they were on Sept. 9 when they played the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte, people will come to see the game on the 100-foot-wide HDTV screen in the middle of the complex, which is also a restaurant called Live! Arena with several satellite bars (where a lot of people were getting better views of smaller screens).
Fans, many of them decked out in Cowboys gear, came out in force, and a Cowboys drumline and dancers led to the festive atmosphere that became less festive as the Cowboys opened their season with a loss.
But on Sept. 5, when the Texas Rangers played a rain-threatened and meaningless game against the Los Angeles Angels at Globe Life Park, things were slow at the complex — slow enough that we were told that Pudge’s Pizza, the pizza stand with former Rangers catcher Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez’s name on it, wouldn’t open that night. But it turns out that Texas Live! has ways of adapting to that.
To be fair, the place is very much in its infancy — the Live! by Loews Hotel is still under construction, as is upcoming Rangers home stadium Globe Life Field (you can watch the progress from certain points at Texas Live!). Both are expected to open in a couple of years. And we talked to waiters who told us that when the Texas Rangers are playing home games, there can be a two-hour wait at some restaurants. Maybe we just picked the wrong game for a dinner visit.
But it’s a gamble: It’s not like there’s nothing else to eat near Globe Life Park and AT&T Stadium, and the ballpark and the stadium are both pretty heavily into the food game themselves.
We (I was usually accompanied by my wife or a friend) typically went at lunch, when parking is free and relatively easy and close; when there are home games that start at 7:05 p.m., parking goes up to $20 at 3 p.m., although you can often still get relatively close to Texas Live and the ballpark if you arrive early enough.
Here’s what we found.