Closing Shot: Texas Memory Maker
During the Texas Rangers’ final weekend at Globe Life Park, John Blake, the team’s executive vice president of communications, looked out onto the field from the press box much like he did 26 seasons ago when the retro ballpark first opened.
As Blake reminisced, “The Temple,” as the stadium was then nicknamed, marked a world-class upgrade as the Rangers left Arlington Stadium, a quasi minor league ballpark. The new stadium, originally called The Ballpark in Arlington, had aesthetics and touches of Texas, creating a home where the Rangers finally established a franchise identity.
They reached two World Series (2010 and 2011) in the $191 million ballpark, which originally featured a manual out-of-town scoreboard as a nod to Fenway Park and a right-field porch similar to the one in old Tiger Stadium. It is easy on the eyes.
“It screamed Texas,” Blake said. “They went for a retro ballpark that had the whole Texas look, and they nailed it. But things change and that’s why we need the new park.”
That’s largely because it also screamed heat. The Rangers’ final game, a 6-1 victory over the New York Yankees on Sept. 29, was played in 94-degree weather. Former Rangers pitcher Brandon McCarthy once called the field “the surface of the sun.”
In the ballpark’s early days, Blake said, some 75 games each season would be played in milder conditions at night. In recent years, however, that number dropped to some 60 or fewer. And when the ballpark first opened, only the Toronto Blue Jays had a retractable roof. Now six clubs do, and the Rangers will join that list when they move across the street into the $1.1 billion Globe Life Field next spring.
The climate-controlled environment will be a blessing. So will the amenities, including more intimate sight lines and concessions that are pushed to the outer rim of the concourse, allowing fans to stay connected to the game.
“It gives us opportunities to serve fans better than we can here,” Blake said. “And I don’t think anyone can argue with a climate-controlled environment to feel more comfortable.”
The Globe Life Park finale was awash in nostalgia, with former President George W. Bush in attendance and Nolan Ryan throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. The field at Globe Life Park now will be reconfigured for the XFL’s Dallas Renegades, and the Rangers will move on.
As Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News eulogized, the ballpark was “a 26-year-old, still sparkling stadium that was done in only by the weather. It is the nicest baseball stadium ever to close.”