Gil LeBreton

Air-conditioned baseball was inevitable for Rangers

The Ballpark in Arlington, as seen in 1994. The Rangers’ former home, Arlington Stadium, is in the background.
The Ballpark in Arlington, as seen in 1994. The Rangers’ former home, Arlington Stadium, is in the background. Star-Telegram

Truth be told, we are A/C Nation.

We would rather shiver at the mall than sweat in the garden.

We air-condition our homes. We air-condition our cars. We air-condition our churches. (Take that, hell).

And a few seasons from now, it appears, we’ll be air-conditioning our baseball.

At a joint news conference Friday, the Texas Rangers and the city of Arlington are expected to announce plans for a new $900 million, retractable roof, air-conditioned-when-necessary baseball stadium.

It was around 1990, when The Ballpark in Arlington was just a gleam in Tom Schieffer’s eye, that the Rangers president decided that outdoor baseball was the way to go. Retractable roofs were still a novelty, found only in Toronto.

It’s hard to say how much the summer heat has cost the Rangers in attendance since the ballpark opened in 1994. With all due respects to former ambassador Schieffer, however, I would suggest that more customers stayed away in Julys than came out in Mays to bask in our annual two weeks of spring.

Word slipped out last winter that something called Downtown Dallas Inc., was plotting to steal the Rangers, claiming to have "five or six" downtown locations already picked out. Never mind that there was no plan in place to fund such a ball park, or that the last time Dallas voters considered a new stadium, the city ended up instead with a fancy bridge.

Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams didn’t have to be jostled twice. And hence, apparently, we have Friday’s news conference.

Voters will have to approve allocation of the existing half-cent sales tax, but Arlington citizens said yes to Jerry Jones and it’s hard to imagine them denying the Rangers.

The main question that Rangers fans should ask the owners is how much will sharing the $900 million cost hurt the franchise in paying players and acquiring free agents?

Beyond that, crank up the bulldozers and turn down the thermostats.

Indoor/outdoor Rangers baseball was probably inevitable.

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