Mac Engel

The Texas Rangers are baseball’s biggest surprise. So why aren’t you showing up?

Texas Rangers Globe Life Field view from home plate

Here is a view from behind home plate at Globe Life Field, the future home of the Texas Rangers, which will open for the 2020 season. The biggest difference between this stadium and the current one, Globe Life Park, is that this will have a roof.
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Here is a view from behind home plate at Globe Life Field, the future home of the Texas Rangers, which will open for the 2020 season. The biggest difference between this stadium and the current one, Globe Life Park, is that this will have a roof.

The Texas Rangers are baseball’s biggest surprise, but the scariest part of this season is that air conditioning may not fix what truly ails this franchise.

On Wednesday, Summer finally made it to town with weather only the equator would love. Until Wednesday, Mother Nature planted our home with a mild kiss of spring weather. Despite that fact combined with a good baseball team, you are not going to The Ballpark in Arlington to watch a good team that wins.

We were told one of the primary reasons the Rangers needed a new park was because fans want air conditioning. That once the air was cool, they will come. So that’s why Tax Hike Friendly Park will open next year when a perfectly good park will essentially be vacated.

The Rangers even tweeted on Wednesday a drawing of the new place with the caption, “@GlobeLifeField is gonna be cool ... literally.”

As someone who plans to be entombed in an air conditioner permanently set at 68.5 degrees, just in case I do wake up, I share this desire.

The problem: The air here in DFW has been cool since the start of the season, and the eyeball test says that ain’t enough. The Rangers currently average 26,353 fans per game in this, the last year of the Ballpark in Arlington.

Actually go to a game and you can see that figure is inflated.

We have reached a point when fans are saying “No mas” to paying for the insulting price to attend a big league game. The cost to attend an big league game is too much, and teams are now seeing that. No new stadium can fix that, and neither will air conditioning.

I love baseball, but I can’t blame any ball fan who turns on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, or another, cheaper, entertainment alternative rather than attend a big league game.

Attending a baseball game should feel like fun rather than extortion.

TEXAS RANGERS RANK IN THE MIDDLE OF MLB ATTENDANCE

The Rangers currently rank 16th in MLB in attendance. For a team that’s winning for the first time in three years, the Rangers should rank about 10th.

At this rate, the Rangers will draw a bit more than 2 million fans. Typically the Rangers need to draw about 3 million fans to ensure a profitable season. This reality is normally a reason why owners change on an average of every seven years; operating a big league club is expensive, and most ownership groups grow tired of the costs.

We live in the fastest growing region in the U.S., and yet here we are.

The team wins, the players are good guys, the stadium is now “nostalgic,” and the weather is cooperating.

The Rangers entice fans with a giveaway promotion for almost every game, to complement an endless amount of food options. The club does a good job of making the game fun once you walk in.

If you want to say Arlington is the problem, go ahead. If you want to say that baseball is the problem, feel free. Those are safe guesses.

Do not deny the price of going to the game as a factor.

THE PRICE OF A BIG LEAGUE GAME

A group of four can attend a Rangers’ game in a decent (non upper deck) seat for a total price of $132. Parking is approximately $20.

Forget buying a souvenir, but you are going to eat and drink. One person eating at the Ballpark is going to cost about $25, less if no alcohol is involved. One order of Grande Nachos is $13.50; a bottled water is $5.50.

Conservatively, a group of four is going to cost $250 for an evening. Throw in eating desserts, a craft beer or two, and maybe a souvenir, and you have easily spent well over $300.

A tab that expensive is going to make going to the ballpark a once or twice a year occasion when baseball, more than any other sport, relies on repeat customers.

Finding cheaper (i.e. upper deck) seats is possible on secondary ticket websites, and you don’t have to eat the $10 hot dog and drink the $17 alcoholic shake at the park. There are ways around a portion of the costs.

The creative fan can actually get in an out for less than $20, but you’ve gotta want it and be willing to accept that the game is enough.

The Rangers, as well as every other team, continually increased the price of attending a game at a rate that far exceeded the standard living increases an average family will receive.

Eventually, as much as we love sports, in particular baseball, every wallet has a limit.

Too many good options exist to pay a premium price for a product that is available 81 nights a year.

When Tax Hike Friendly Park opens next year, the attendance issue will be “fixed.” Our desire to consume new things and take in the new-car smell will override everything else.

But if the Rangers trot out a winning team, and the air is 72 degrees, and the place isn’t full, we’ll know it was never the stadium.

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Mac Engel is an award-winning columnist who has extensive experience covering Fort Worth-Dallas area sports for 20 years. He has covered high schools, colleges, all four major sports teams as well as Olympic games and the world of entertainment, too. He combines dry wit with first-person reporting to complement a head of hair that is almost unfair.

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