Those who can’t stand the thought of a wrecking ball slamming into Globe Life Park in Arlington if voters approve funding for a new retractable-roof baseball stadium may not need to worry.
Several sources have told the Star-Telegram that plans are being drawn up to redevelop the existing ballpark with possible uses including condos, retail and perhaps an amphitheater.
The redevelopment would not only retain the ballpark’s signature outfield office complex but repurpose all or most of the rest of the structure. Officials said tentative plans and renderings could be publicly announced next month, possibly as early as Labor Day.
Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams declined to confirm or deny the reports.
“The thing I would say on the record is that all along the Rangers have said they would be looking at how to best utilize the existing ballpark,” he said. “It’s a beautiful place with great features and a lot of opportunity.”
At this time we’re looking at a wide range of possibilities.
Rob Matwick, executive vice president of business operations, Texas Rangers
One proponent of the new stadium who has firsthand knowledge of the discussions said potential uses for the current ballpark include condos, retail and offices built in the stadium’s wide concourse, which wraps almost entirely around the stadium.
On the field could be a park and/or a youth baseball field, according to the source.
“We understand the significance of The Ballpark in Arlington,” the source said, referring the stadium’s original name when it opened in 1994. “There are a lot of good ideas. It would be great to keep that history.”
Another source said an amphitheater is among the ideas. All would seem to mesh with Texas Live!, the $200 million project that will include 100,000 square feet of restaurant, bar and retail space, 35,000 square feet of convention space and plans for a 300-bed, high-rise luxury hotel to be built directly across from Globe Life Park.
Condos would also play into the city’s strategy to get more consumer traffic into the Arlington entertainment district, which includes the ballpark, AT&T Stadium, Six Flags Over Texas and Six Flags Hurricane Harbor.
The sources asked not to be identified because the plans have not yet been made public.
What people say in the middle of the campaign should be heavily discounted or completely ignored.
Warren Norred, member of Citizens for a Better Arlington
In the debate over public funding for a new $1 billion retractable-roof stadium for the Texas Rangers, there is likely no image so searing for opponents as Globe Life Park, the team’s home for 22 years, being torn down.
Announcing plans to preserve the structure just two months before the election certainly would have a calming effect on some potential voters whose main concern has been the future of the ballpark.
Opponents believe officials behind the ballpark preservation plans are misleading the electorate, said Warren Norred, an attorney and member of Citizens for a Better Arlington, a political action committee behind a campaign called Save Our Stadium.
He said the timing would be “very suspect” because tentative plans could be abandoned after the election.
“What people say in the middle of the campaign should be heavily discounted or completely ignored,” he said.
City Councilman Robert Rivera took issue with any assertion of political motivation.
“The Rangers have been a trusted partner in our community for the past four decades, providing valuable jobs and millions in charitable giving,” Rivera said. “Our City Council has complete confidence that any plans they develop for repurposing the existing stadium will have great benefit to our entertainment district.”
A master agreement signed by the city would give the Rangers authority to demolish the old ballpark any time after a new one opens — likely in time for the 2021 season. But officials have said that’s only the nuclear option — if all else fails.
“It’s not going to be bulldozed, I’ll tell you that,” said the source who cited an amphitheater as among the potential uses. The Rangers “are really just trying to finalize the plans of what they would like to do with it. I think it will be in conjunction with Texas Live!”
The Cordish Cos., which is developing Texas Live!, is also working with the Rangers to draft the tentative plans and renderings for repurposing Globe Life Park, several sources said. Cordish, which is based in Baltimore, has not returned phone calls.
The Rangers won’t discuss exactly what they are considering but said last week that they are “looking very hard at other options” than demolition.
“At this time, we’re looking at a wide range of possibilities,” said Rob Matwick, Rangers executive vice president of business operations. “We know there is going to be a need for additional parking and there is a wide range of other possibilities, but we don’t have a definitive answer today.”
Staff writer Max B. Baker contributed to this report, which includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.