The Texas Rangers announced they will be moving into a new retractable-roof ballpark in 2023 or possibly earlier, ending their run at Globe Life Park. The Rangers’ new ballpark will be located right near the soon-to-be-old one in Arlington. It’s expected to cost about $900 million and be paid for with a half-cent sales tax, similar to the tax used to pay off the Dallas Cowboys’ massive AT&T Stadium right next door. The new facility would be jointly owned by the Rangers and the city of Arlington.
The key to the new park is the retractable roof that Globe Life Park lacks. The Texas weather tends to lean toward the very, very warm, often hitting the 110-degree mark (!) on the field. The miserable summer heat can depress crowds, in both attendance figures and morale, even when the Rangers are winning on the field. Having a park with a retractable roof would allow Rangers fans to sit in air-conditioned comfort and remove the “eh, it’s too hot to sit out there” excuse that many fans might reasonably come up with in the dog days of summer.
Globe Life Park opened in 1994 as The Ballpark in Arlington. It came right after Oriole Park at Camden Yards ushered in a wave of “retro” ballparks that recalled earlier eras of baseball. Its red-brick façade is part of that, while friezes of memorable events in both baseball and Texas history give it a neat “only-in-Texas” flair. Beloved by fans who call it The Temple or The Ballpark (despite the two-year-old Globe Life moniker), the inside of the park also has shoutouts to older parks. A left-field scoreboard embedded in the wall brings to mind Boston’s venerable Fenway Park, arched windows recall Chicago’s old and original Comiskey Park, and even old Yankee Stadium is in the mix with a white steel frieze that lines the top of the park. There’s plenty of local flavor, also. Since it’s in The Proudest State in the Union (just ask its residents), four Flag Girls come running out with the state flag in the Greene’s Hill area behind right field every time the Rangers score a run or hit a home run. No other major-league park in any other city or state does that. (“The Miami Marlins scored! Yay! Oh look, here’s the Florida state flag to celebrate!”)
Globe Life Park is just twenty-two years old and will be twenty-nine when the Rangers leave. Its maintenance, space, amenities, or need for extensive repairs are non-issues. The only issue here is the roof that didn’t come with the park back in 1994 due to financial and/or technical limitations, and this new facility aims to fix that. The Ballpark does have multiple “cooling stations” spaced throughout, complete with air-conditioning units for fans to get brief respites from the heat, but these are apparently just not enough and so here comes the new park. Will the Rangers’ new home recall earlier ballparks, have that Texas spirit, and/or be a good place to watch a baseball game? Who knows? It will, however, keep the heat out, and that’s one local trait whose absence should help the new park. It’s not just for fans, either. With the promise of climate control, the Rangers might be able to better attract free agents who have might reservations about having to play most of 81 games a year in extreme heat.
With the Atlanta Braves vacating Turner Field after just two decades to move to SunTrust Park next season and now the Rangers moving out of their own park just after it reached the legal voting age, it’s fair to wonder if this is a new developing trend. The Braves’ move might have been an anomaly and the Rangers a coincidence, but three of anything usually marks a new trend. Each of them has valid reasons for wanting to move out of relatively new ballparks, but so do the Oakland A’s and Tampa Bay Rays, neither of whom has gotten any traction in that area despite years of attempts. If some teams are now planning successors to ballparks that only date to two U.S. presidents ago, then other teams might soon follow suit. We used to replace ninety-year-old ballparks, and now we start to get a wandering eye at twenty years. Who’s next?