It was on Feb. 19 that the Texas Rangers announced third-base coach Tony Beasley would be in-and-out this year as he battled rectal cancer.
The shocking news turned out to be a rallying point as Beasley’s courage and fight spread through the team. It was the first of many incredible story lines from the 2016 Texas Rangers and their special journey:
On May 28, Yu Darvish returned after a 22-month absence due to Tommy John surgery, giving the team a boost.
On July 31, the Rangers acquired Jonathan Lucroy and Carlos Beltran, solidifying their playoff roster.
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On Aug. 11, Prince Fielder was forced to retire from multiple neck injuries, announcing it at a somber and emotional press conference with the entire team present.
The team galvanized, finishing 27-19 and clinching the AL West for the fourth time in seven years.
But on May 20, the Rangers announced the most controversial story line of their 2016 season: They were getting a new stadium — to make the team better.
While the Rangers have a contract with Arlington through the 2023 season, rumors that Dallas wanted to steal the team led many Arlington residents to contact the City Council and Mayor Jeff Williams, begging for an extension.
Meanwhile the Rangers decided internally that 2023, at the latest, will be their last season in a stadium without a retractable roof.
The rumors grew: Dallas would build a state-of-the-art, retractable-roof stadium with the downtown Dallas skyline in view.
So Arlington got to work and put together a deal that would keep the Rangers in Arlington for a long time.
It was unanimously passed by the City Council. The only catch? Arlington had to build a new stadium to keep their heart and soul. And they had to pay for half of it.
So what’s wrong with the Ballpark besides a little heat? It’s Texas after all.
Well, there are a few things that bother the Rangers:
The heat is so bad that players regularly take IVs before the game to ensure they don’t get dangerously dehydrated.
There is no climate-controlled practice facility. The Rangers practice at a local high school in the winter when it gets too cold.
The heat keeps attendance down, especially at day games.
Rain can delay/postpone games, and out-of-town fans often don’t risk attending a game if there’s a chance of rain in the forecast.
Open-air stadiums aren’t as loud as enclosed stadiums, creating a less hostile atmosphere and less home field advantage.
Technology has advanced greatly from 1994 when the Globe Life Park was built. Implementing these improvements in an older stadium is more difficult than starting over.
But why do residents have to pay for it? Why can’t the billionaire owners pay for it?
That’s not how the majority of professional sports teams and stadiums work. You may philosophically disagree, but the majority of professional sports stadiums have partial public funding because the fans want the entertainment and feeling of ownership.
More importantly, if Arlington doesn’t pay for the new stadium, another city will. For example, Frisco just helped the Dallas Cowboys build a new indoor practice facility.
So the rich get richer?
Maybe. But that’s not what this is about. This vote is about supporting our team.
The tax dollars will make our team better. This is our way of supporting our team beyond buying tickets and shirseys.
This allows the owners to make bigger free-agent deals. Maybe a new stadium allows us to keep Yu Darvish.
I’m not worried about owners getting richer. You don’t buy a baseball team to make money. You buy a baseball team to win a World Series after you’ve made money and have nothing else to spend it on.
No amount of money can buy a championship. Just ask Jerry Jones.
So if Arlington can help win a World Series by building a new stadium and even paying the bill, sign me up.
This season ended way too soon. We didn’t win one for Prince and Beasley.
All those comeback wins and #nevereverquit brought many exciting victories and had us all thinking about late October/early November baseball and maybe even a parade on Nov. 7.
But Arlington can still win in November. And winning this vote might get us closer to that parade.
You can keep that tax cut, Mayor Williams. We’ll be winning on Nov. 8.
Simeon Benson of Arlington is a civil engineer for the Army Corps of Engineers and an alumni of the University of Texas at Arlington.