Mac Engel

Can’t shed a tear for Ballpark in Arlington because it was never allowed to grow old

It took a while but the final game at the Ballpark in Arlington was announced a sellout about 24 hours before first pitch.

Tickets remain on the secondary market at a modest $50; earlier in the week, the upper deck seats were going for $2.

Can’t blame anybody for this development. The Rangers stink (again). Since summer refuses to bow to even a hint of fall, it’s going to be a sweatshop for the 2:05 p.m. first pitch. And it is Week 4 of the NFL season.

We all have our favorite memory of the Ballpark, but shedding a tear or two for ol’ Globe Life Park is hard because a place built to endure was closed before it had the chance to grow old.

A place has to be open for 40 or 50 years, or house championship teams, to inspire a good cry. Or it was an eyesore dump that we call “character.”

The Ballpark did not hit those marks, even if the highest points of the Texas Rangers happened on Randol Mill Road.

We are not talking about the St. Louis Cardinals leaving Busch Stadium, the Baltimore Orioles bolting Memorial Stadium, the Cincinnati Reds vacating Riverfront Stadium or the San Francisco Giants moving out of Candlestick Park.

Look at the landscape of the franchises that left their beloved parks, and they nearly all had championship teams, or seminal moments that inspired a national reaction.

The Rangers leaving the Ballpark is akin to the San Diego Padres and Jack Murphy Stadium, or the Seattle Mariners and the Kingdome.

The closest timeline to the Ballpark in Arlington is the Georgia Dome in Atlanta; the latter opened in September 1992. The Atlanta Falcons moved out into Mercedes Benz Stadium in August 2017.

The saddest part of the Rangers leaving the Ballpark in Arlington is that this does not need to happen, and they never did win a World Series here.

The place opened in April 1994, and it will close as a baseball stadium in September 2019. That’s 26 years. Most people who buy homes use a 30-year mortgage. For a large American sports venue, 26 years is not long.

The club had losing records in 14 of those years.

They went 1-9 in three playoff series against the New York Yankees in the ‘90s. The entire first decade of this century was either wasted on Alex Rodriguez, or building something worth celebrating. They had eight losing years in the first 10 years of this century.

It’s hard to grow nostalgic about a place when the team loses that much.

In 2010 things turned up, and the real memories were built.

Nonetheless, we all have a favorite memory or two of the yard.

Personally, watching Neftali Feliz strike out A-Rod to win the 2010 American League Championship series is a favorite. The same for Mike Napoli’s tie-breaking double in Game 5 of the 2011 World Series to essentially give the Rangers a 3-2 series lead.

It is those moments when you could see and feel sound.

And then there are the personal moments with family and friends. We all have ‘em, and those are the ones that typically make sports memorable.

New ownership, and an Arlington mayor who wanted no part of this team’s potential move to Dallas, “needed” a new park. The team will move across the street while the current place has aged as well as promised when it was built.

There is nothing wrong with the “old place”; the fans who are so giddy at the idea of air conditioned baseball will be only too mad when they realize they are the ones footing the electric bill.

The legacy of the Ballpark in Arlington will be that it made the Texas Rangers a legitimate MLB franchise for the first time since the franchise relocated from Washington, D.C., to down our street.

Thanks to then-managing general partner George Bush, Arlington mayor Richard Greene and Rangers president Tom Schieffer; the Rangers are an active MLB member because of their vision. Never forget the Arlington tax payers who voted to raise the cash to build the park.

The Ballpark in Arlington was, and is, a great place, and it never grew old.

Because it didn’t have the chance.

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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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