Every time I see it I smile! One of those smiles that is typically reserved for an old friend. A warm smile, a friendly smile full of memories and joy. This time of year I see it a lot. I see it each time I drive down Randol Mill on the way to work. I see it while I work from the Rangers Live set in left field. I see it from the broadcast booth where I sit to watch the games.
It, of course, is the magnificent structure first known as The Ballpark in Arlington. Today it is Choctaw Stadium, and if you haven’t seen it lately do yourself a favor and swing by.
Although dwarfed by its new neighbor to the south, it looks exactly the same on the outside.
However, the inside looks a lot different. They really couldn’t play baseball there anymore because the dimensions have been changed. The Rangers moved across the street after the 2019 season. Since then the stadium has hosted XFL, MLS Next Pro, USL League One pro soccer, Major League Rugby and tons of high school and college football games.
For those of us who loved Globe Life Park, it is a relief and a joy to have it survive and thrive.
The good news is that we can count Rangers chairman and managing partner Ray Davis among those who love this place. He told me during the final weekend at the old ballpark that his fond memories of baseball games in the late ‘90s would ensure that the stadium would live on in some capacity. Even as the cynics wondered when the wrecking ball would start to swing.
With the Choctaw naming rights Davis has put money where his mouth is, so to speak. The Chief of the Choctaw Nation, Gary Batton says, “We are proud to have our name on the field and be a part of the stadium that has brought so much joy over the years to so many in North Texas.”
I could fill the entire magazine with memories of my joyous experiences there. But time marches on, and now there are new tenants, new sports, new experiences, new joy.
The Dallas Jackals have a couple of home games left. The Jackals are our newest neighbors and represent Major League Rugby, which is a lot like football only with more hitting and fewer pads.
The Beautiful Game has returned to this Beautiful Venue, as well. The 2022 season for North Texas SC started in March and continues through mid September. Which is just about the time the high school football season gets cranked up. There will be as many as 50 high school games there and a handful of college games too.
The atmosphere around the “ol’ ballpark” is so different now. With Texas Live!, Live! by Loews and Globe Life Field, there is energy and excitement around here every day of the year.
Speaking of Globe Life field, I had a chance to interview one of the newest Rangers, catcher Mitch Garver, recently. He talked about how much he loved the vibe in the Arlington Entertainment District and how much he loves his new home stadium.
I followed up by asking about his old home, Target Field in Minnesota. He cut me off and said without hesitation. “Globe Life Field is the best facility in professional sports,” he said. “From the facilities, to the locker rooms to the fan experience, there is nothing like it anywhere.”
He’s right. Globe Life Field is a palace. But on the palace grounds there sits a beautiful castle.
Its facade is regal and stately and Texan. There have been battles fought on these grounds and battles won on these grounds. And now that it has been renovated there will be more battles fought here, more memories made here, more joy created here.