Architects behind AT&T Stadium to design new ballpark for Texas Rangers

An artist rendering of the new baseball stadium for the Texas Rangers being designed by HKS of Dallas, shown at a press conference Thursday in Arlington.
An artist rendering of the new baseball stadium for the Texas Rangers being designed by HKS of Dallas, shown at a press conference Thursday in Arlington. Texas Rangers

The Texas Rangers are sticking with the home team to design their new stadium in Arlington.

HKS, the Dallas-based firm that worked on both AT&T Stadium and Globe Life Park, has been selected as design architect for the Rangers’ $1 billion retractable-roof stadium, the team said Thursday.

The Dallas-based firm also did AT&T Stadium, so you know they know domes

Officials said HKS was selected because of how it embraced the team’s desire to create a venue that blends the traditional style of Globe Life Park with the high-tech roof and amenities that will provide climate control for fans on hot summer days and allow the team to stage events year-round.

With that in mind, the Rangers said the new stadium will not only serve as the Rangers home, but can also host high school, college and international sporting events, as well as concerts and other entertainment tours. It’s expected to open in time for the start of the 2020 Major League Baseball season.

“We’re very focused on making this a vibrant destination year-round,” said Bryan Trubey, executive vice president and principal designer for HKS on the new stadium. The new ballpark will host a variety of events “without compromising anything to do with authentic baseball,” he added.

A building of this magnitude has to be more than just a world-class ballpark.

Rob Matwick, executive vice president for business operations, Texas Rangers

HKS has worked on several other baseball stadiums around the country including Miller Park in Milwaukee, which has a retractable roof; U.S. Cellular Field renovations in Chicago; and Dodger Stadium renovations in Los Angeles. It has also done several other football stadiums including the new U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis and the Lucas Oil Stadium for the Indianapolis Colts.

Rob Matwick, the Rangers’ executive vice president for business operations, said HKS’ selection was based largely on how the firm responded to the team’s desires.

“A building of this magnitude has to be more than just a world-class ballpark,” Matwick said. Fans who love Globe Life Park, which opened as The Ballpark in Arlington in 1994, want “an intimate experience and to be close to the action.” Downsizing to roughly 42,000 seats will help create that atmosphere, he said.

Matwick said HKS’ initial design concepts “checked all those boxes and were a critical piece in our selection.”

A special project

The team’s agreement with the city adds 30 years to the end of the current lease, which expires after the 2023 season, and secures Rangers baseball in Arlington through the 2053 season.

Arlington voters on Nov. 8 overwhelmingly backed a proposal to finance up to half of the project’s construction costs by extending a half-cent sales tax, 2 percent hotel-occupancy tax and 5 percent car rental tax that are now being used to pay down the city’s remaining share of AT&T Stadium’s construction debt.

City finance officials are working on a debt restructuring plan that would allow a portion of those taxes to be redirected to begin building the stadium. The city will slow payments on the AT&T debt as it begins work on the new stadium.

According to a timeline unveiled in late November, the Rangers expect to have conceptual and schematic drawings ready in the spring, and kick off a 31-month construction period in the fall.

Our intent is to make a multi-level connection with Texas Live! so there’s no distinction over going from one venue to the next.

Bryan Trubey, executive vice president, HKS

Trubey was emotional about returning to Arlington for another stadium.

“We don’t have many days like this because there aren’t many projects of this magnitude actually being built at any given time anywhere on the planet,” he said. “This is that kind of project.”

Although the most salient feature of the project during the election campaign has been the retractable roof, Trubey doesn’t expect it to be prominent in the final design. Most retractable-roof stadiums built in recent years have been “indistinguishable” from one another, he said.

“It’s the dominant physical expression of the ballpark,” he said. “Maybe the right thing to do is make the dominant physical expression about the architecture.”

Pedestrian energy

Trubey referred to many photos and renderings of various design elements that could be incorporated into a final stadium design, including the brick, arches and other features of Globe Life Park. “We haven’t woven this all together,” he said. “There is a time when we’ll roll out the design and show you all the detail.”

One feature of Globe Life Park — the indoor concourses — won’t be a part of the new stadium. Trubey wants the energy generated by pedestrian streets, which are outdoors but often beneath a glass ceiling. One rendering shows the ballpark on one side of the street and lines of concessions, restrooms and restaurants on the opposite side.

“If you travel around the world, and you go to outdoor urban festivals, you’ve been on these kinds of streets,” he said. “They’re vibrant, interesting, and they drive people to them.”

He said initial plans are to have such a pedestrian street connect seamlessly to the $250 million Texas Live! mixed-use entertainment and high-rise hotel complex, which broke ground next door in October. The entertainment and dining venues are set to open in time for the 2018 baseball season, followed by the hotel/convention portion later that year.

“Our intent is to make a multilevel connection with Texas Live! so there’s no distinction over going from one venue to the next,” he said. “It feels like the two projects are completely integrated.”

The proposal was approved by 60 percent of voters and included authorization of an admissions tax and parking tax of up to 10 percent and $3, respectively, that the Rangers could use to help fund their share of the costs. Matwick said after the news conference that the ballclub has not yet decided whether it will avail itself of those revenues. “It is being discussed” as part of ongoing financial preparation, he said.

The new stadium will be built immediately south of Globe Life Park, on parking lots across Randol Mill Road. The Rangers have committed to redeveloping the 22-year-old Globe Life Park for other uses.

Mayor Jeff Williams voiced his excitement over Thursday’s announcement.

“I’m looking forward to seeing this world-class architect work with us to actually design the ‘Field of Dreams’ in the American Dream City here in Arlington,” Williams said. “I can’t wait for 2020.”

Robert Cadwallader: 817-390-7186, @Kaddmann_ST

Ray Davis, one of the two principal owners of the Texas Rangers, addresses the Vote Yes crowd Tuesday night after public funding for a new ballpark was approved (video by Jeff Wilson).