It’s another major win for our city, as the 2024 Major League Baseball All Star Game is again presented to the world with Arlington fully centered in the spotlight of the National Pastime’s annual extravaganza.
We should take a minute and reflect on how this is just the latest reward for what was one of the most consequential decisions ever made by Arlington voters when they showed up in record numbers in 1991 to approve the development of The Ballpark in Arlington.
Without that far-reaching outcome the Texas Rangers would be playing in some other city, and nothing that has occurred in the city’s largest tourism economy would have ever come to pass.
Instead, we today have one of the nation’s most thriving sports and entertainment industries supporting an enhanced quality of life for all our residents.
Dallas Morning News sportswriter Evan Grant did a nice job when describing how Major League Baseball will, in addition to staging the game’s centerpiece event at Globe Life Field, make use of everything else around it.
That will include Choctaw Stadium (the original Ballpark in Arlington where the 1995 All Star Game was presented), Texas Live!, the 1,200 Loews hotel rooms scheduled to be online by early 2024, the new Arlington Convention Center attached to one of those hotels, and Esports Stadium just across Johnson Creek.
MLB Vice President of Global Events Jeremiah Yolkut recognized what Arlington has achieved in the ensuing years: “The development the Rangers have come up with is sort of an entertainment and sports mecca, and at the center is an amazing ballpark that we are very familiar with.”
Rangers owner Ray Davis confirmed that reality in his statement following the announcement: “With the opening of Globe Life Field in 2020 and the incredible development that continues to take place around the park, Arlington is an ideal location to host Major League Baseball and the Midsummer Classic.”
Texas Governor Greg Abbott added his congratulations following the announcement, “Thanks to the hard work of the Rangers franchise and local leaders, Texas has once again proven itself to be a premier destination for business and America’s pastime. The All-Star Game will be a boon to our state’s economy and tourism industry.”
While the Arlington Convention and Visitors Bureau estimates the game will bring $90 million in economic impact to the area, I have always thought the intangible benefits were worth much more.
Having the privilege of being in the middle of it all as mayor of our city’s hosting the 1995 game, I experienced first-hand how Arlington emerged in national attention, as the week-long celebration unfolded throughout the national news and sports media.
At first, reporters who were not yet familiar with Arlington erroneously would identify “Dallas” as where the event was being staged. We quickly fixed that, and by the time Nolan Ryan tossed out the ceremonial first pitch on game day, it was all Arlington, all the time.
I’m reminded that during the game we got to see all these future MLB Hall of Fame players, beginning with our own Pudge Rodriguez, on our field at the same time: Frank Thomas, Wade Boggs, Cal Ripken Jr., Ken Griffey Jr., Kirby Puckett, Edgar Martinez, Mike Piazza, Craig Biggio, Ozzie Smith, Tony Gwynn, Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson, Lee Smith, Barry Larkin, and Roberto Alomar.
That’s one-time excitement for baseball fans everywhere, and we’ll get to see the current prospects for that honor again in less than two years from now – the best of the best who excel at the most challenging game in the entire world of sports.
There are only 28 cities in the world that have the unique privilege of hosting a Major League Baseball team. Arlington again emerges among them all right here as the game’s premier midsummer’s event sets the bar higher than ever with everyone watching.