Tailgaters wait for baseball, watch football

Benicio Hoyos and Tony Sanchez watch the Dallas Cowboys game as they tailgate before the Rangers game at Globe Life Park in Arlington Sunday.
Benicio Hoyos and Tony Sanchez watch the Dallas Cowboys game as they tailgate before the Rangers game at Globe Life Park in Arlington Sunday. Star-Telegram

Sandra Pulido of Dallas arrived near Globe Life Park at about 11 a.m. Sunday, three hours before the parking lots opened.

“We just wanted to make sure we had a good spot because we knew the Cowboys game was going on,” she said. “That’s regular season – this is the playoffs. I can do without going to one game.”

A crowd of 150,000 people swarmed in and around Globe Life Park and AT&T Stadium on Sunday to tailgate and to watch the Dallas Cowboys and the Texas Rangers play within hours of each other, less than a mile apart.

Eleno Ornelas sat with a plate of tacos in his lap at Pulido’s tailgate. In two hours, the Rangers’ Spanish-language play-by-play radio announcer would walk across the parking lot to the press box at the ballpark.

Between bites of discada and tortilla, Ornelas said he had about six invitations to tailgates. “It’s tough to get with everybody. I’ll have a pair of tacos here, and then go to every stop until I get to the ballpark,” he said.

Richard Guay and Taylor Carter were waving brooms in honor of a possible Rangers sweep.

“The Cowboys are playing today?” Carter quipped.

Guay added, “Football season doesn’t start until the final pitch of the World Series.”

The Rangers’ first home playoff game against the Toronto Blue Jays in Game 3 of the American League Division Series started at 7:05 p.m., about an hour after the Cowboys’ defeat by the New England Patriots at AT&T Stadium.

The Cowboys’ presence was felt near Globe Life Park, in the occasional roar of the crowd and the voices of football announcers on radios and TVs. At most tailgates the TVs were tuned to CBS 11 to watch Dallas struggle against New England.

Great for business

The combination of the two games was a boon for game-day businesses.

Rockell McKay sells water, Gatorade and sodas out of his own cooler during each Cowboys game. On a normal Sunday, he’ll set up shop on a pedestrian bridge between Globe Life and AT&T and make around $600.

He expected to finish Sunday with twice as much.

“This bridge averages about 10,000-15,000 [in foot traffic] on regular days,” McKay said. “Today, this bridge probably is averaging double of that. That’s great for me.”

Fans reported no major problems getting to Arlington or finding a parking spot. But baseball fans who waited until an hour before the first pitch faced the prospect of trying to get into a parking lot while tens of thousands of football fans left AT&T Stadium.

Keith McFalls, a Rangers season-ticket holder for 20 years, played it safe. He backed his Ford pickup into his season-pass spot around 2:30 p.m. and fired up a grill.

“This is what you wait for,” he said. “This is do or die. This is why you buy season tickets.”

While the Rangers struggled to draw large crowds in September, the stands were packed with towel-waving fans by 6:45 p.m., when player introductions began.

It’s what Brent Baker of Weatherford expected as he pulled into his parking spot a couple of hours earlier.

“When you’re here for the playoffs, you hang on every pitch,” the Weatherford resident said. “Regular-season baseball is kind of laid back. It’s not going to be laid-back in there tonight.”

Staff writer Gordon Dickson contributed to this report.

Ryan Osborne, 817-390-7684

Twitter: @RyanOsborneFWST

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