Ever since the Texas Rangers were sold out of bankruptcy court in August 2010, the new owners have spent each off-season improving some part of what is now Globe Life Park.
The concourses behind home plate and in center field have been improved, with a new structure atop Greene’s Hill that can be rented for games and non-game day events.
The clubs behind home plate and in left field have been redone and rebranded. Office space in left-center is now a restaurant, bar and kids area. The former restaurant in right field is now a multi-purpose venue.
The visitor’s bullpen was reconfigured. The dugouts and camera wells were expanded. Two rows of deluxe seats were added behind home plate. New videoboards sit across the outfield, from right to left, along with a modernized out-of-town scoreboard and a new sound system.
The Rangers’ ballpark is no eyesore. Compared to others across major league baseball, it’s eye candy, even as the 11th-oldest stadium in baseball.
But it’s not just all good looks. Globe Life Park remains functional.
The Globe is on the endangered stadiums list for what appears to be a first-world problem — the need for a retractable roof. There’s more to it than just that.
As of Friday afternoon, though, the Globe is on the endangered stadiums list for what appears to be a first-world problem — the need for a retractable roof.
There’s more to it than just that. At 22 years old, Globe Life is getting old, nearly too old.
Make no mistake that the current ballpark is coming down, or most of it is, as the Rangers and the city of Arlington are planning for a new ballpark to be ready to go by Opening Day 2021 for the cool cost of $1 billion.
All that’s needed is for Arlington voters to continue their history of saying yes to ensure that professional sports teams come to or stay in their city.
Some taxpayers will howl because the existing half-cent sales tax that is funding AT&T Stadium will be extended and won’t go to better roads and better schools. Consider, though, city statistics that estimate the new ballpark generating around five times the $500 million the city is committing.
The disgruntled citizen might also want to consider some numbers the city didn’t provide — what would happen to Arlington’s economy if the Rangers were to bolt.
Some baseball purists will howl that the game is meant to be played outdoors, as Mickey, Willie and the Duke did. Or the Babe and the Iron Horse. If this segment of the fan base is so pure, why aren’t they wearing a suit to July ballgames like fans did back then?
Three of the 11 oldest ballparks in the American League West: Angel Stadium and Oakland Coliseum, which opened in 1996, and Globe Life Park, which opened in 1994.
While the retractable roof has been the main selling point, there’s more to the Rangers’ desire for a new ballpark.
Technology has advanced beyond the current ballpark’s capacities in some areas, making improvements trickier, if not impossible, and more expensive with each passing year. At some point, it starts making sense to put money projected for future improvements into a new ballpark.
For instance, a roof could be added to the current ballpark, but at a cost of nearly $300 million and with significant alterations to the aging infrastructure, and possibly having to close part of Ballpark Way or Randol Mill Road.
Putting that money into a new ballpark makes good business sense and helps preserve the owners’ bottom line.
And let’s not be naive here:
As much as Ray Davis, one of the two primary investors in the ownership group, talked about improving the fan experience thanks to air conditioning and never having a rain delay, a new ballpark will increase the franchise’s value and help him and other owners turn a bigger profit when they decide it’s time to sell.
The Rangers already own the land where the new stadium will be built, south of Randol Mill in what are now parking lots A and B, so they will see the value of the property take a significant jump.
Plus, by staying in Arlington, the owners don’t have to lease the land or buy it up as they would have had to if they built elsewhere.
There’s this, too: The $500 million the Rangers are forking over will actually help them when it comes to revenue sharing, as some of the debt service payments for new stadiums create deductions against revenue for sharing purposes.
Another goal of the new stadium, of course, is to put more butts in seats and sell more hot dogs, Budweisers and more T-shirts. Davis said that the Rangers don’t have hard-and-fast numbers, but they know that fans will not come to games in the heat, and it’s been that way for years.
Even with seating capacity down from 48,114 to somewhere between 42,000 to 44,000, Davis said that the Rangers are anticipating a higher average attendance and more revenue to help fund the team’s payroll and bring in free agents wary of the heat.
A better on-field product helps put fans in the ballpark, too, and helps line the owners’ pockets.
All cynicism aside, a retractable roof on a ballpark is a great thing. Every game is played without delay, a crowd has more energy, and so do players who aren’t getting beaten down by the blistering temperatures or soaking rains. Players stay healthier, too.
27 Seasons the Rangers will have played in Globe Life Park when it closes in 2020
Davis said that the roof will be open for all but July and August, though that will probably stretch into mid-June and possibly as late as mid-September. Rain probably closes the roof another handful of games.
So out of 81 home games, the roof figures to be open for about half of them, a concession to the baseball purists.
The taxpayers will have to find their own solace, which is better than having to find out what life is like with no baseball team to help pump revenue into their city’s budget.
A new ballpark is coming, but not just simply for a retractable roof to keep fans cool.
Globe Life Park is 22 years old. That’s old, nearly too old.