Last month, there was a Twitter link making the rounds that included a shot of yours truly wearing a double- breasted suit and baggy pants as I walked the first baseline of the brand spanking new Ballpark in Arlington. It was part of a special that aired on NBC5 that celebrated the new home of the Texas Rangers.
My closing line went something like this: “We are taking in the splendor of this majestic new ballpark that will undoubtedly outlast all of us. This is John Rhadigan for ‘Take Me out to the Ballpark.’”
The truth is: The next couple of years are going to be strange as we all watch the construction of the new stadium even as we cling to all of the memories that were made in the “old” one.
It will be a completely different experience from 23 years ago, when very few fans mourned the passing of Arlington Stadium. That was an outdated stadium that was not built to house a major league team. This is a palace that was built right and has been updated beautifully. Globe Life Park in Arlington was – and is – a near-perfect place to watch a game. It has just one flaw: no roof!
The new stadium will be better than the old one because it will have a roof – and it will have air conditioning. Of course, it would have been nice if it had been possible to simply slap a roof over Globe Life Park. Former owner Tom Hicks spent millions to study that possibility, and it just was not feasible. For those who are too young to remember, the current stadium does not have a roof because that technology was cost-prohibitive when the ballpark was built in the early ‘90s.
This is the time to build a stadium like this. Modern technology allows for all the things a baseball purist might miss. It allows for natural grass, it allows for blue skies above (weather permitting), it allows for fresh air, it even allows for the roof to be opened and closed during the course of the game. So if the rains move in, you close it. If the temperatures drop, you open it.
Even fans who are against the idea of a new park will come to appreciate that certainty. There are no rain outs. You needn’t bring a hat or gloves to the first night game of the season because it could get so cold after nightfall. Seriously, some of the coldest nights I have spent in Texas have been during three-hour games on windy nights in April.
This is like a getting a new car with all the bells and whistles. This stadium will have power windows, heated seats, a backseat entertainment system, navigation. You get the point – the new ballpark will be the equivalent of a car that is loaded.
There will be shops, restaurants, concert venues. Things to do before and after the ballgame, reasons to come to the ballpark in the off-season. This will be good for Arlington. Like AT&T Stadium, it will attract people to our city.
Once all the amenities are in place, like Texas Live, people will have more of a reason to stay in Arlington and spend some money. It won’t be a drive-by to look at the stadium; rather it will be a stopover to enjoy some food and fellowship.
So as you come to Globe Life Park this year and for the next couple of years, don’t be angry or annoyed. Be eager.
The future is very bright for the Arlington sports complex. Besides, they are not tearing the old stadium down; they are going to use it in new and creative ways.
Indeed, maybe my words will actually ring true. Maybe, “the majesty and splendor of all three stadiums in Arlington will, in fact, outlast all of us. This is John Rhadigan for Arlington Today.”
Sports columnist John Rhadigan is an anchor for the Fox Sports Southwest television network.