I grew up in Michigan,
and like generations of Michiganders my favorite place in the entire Metro-Detroit area was Tiger Stadium. I loved that place. I was filled with excitement every time I went to a game. Even once I began my career as a sportscaster I got butterflies walking up to corner of Michigan and Trumball.
In 1984, my first year in television, my beloved Tigers won the World Series. I was covering Game Five of the series when Kirk Gibson hit his second-most- famous home run, a game clincher off of Goose Gossage. As I was leaving the stadium that night there was such a huge crowd of people filling the concourses that I really thought someone was going to be crushed or trampled. I realized then that my beloved Tiger Stadium needed to be replaced.
Today, the same thing is true about another place I love:
Globe Life Park in Arlington.
In the case of Tiger Stadium, it was, literally, dangerous to leave the stadium after a sellout. It had become obsolete.
Clearly, it is not dangerous to leave Globe Life, but, as beautiful as it is, it has become obsolete, as well. For the comfort of the fans, a ballpark in Arlington needs a roof and air conditioning. The Rangers have spent millions of dollars investigating the possibility of retrofitting a roof to Globe Life, and it is just not feasible. For those who lament the fact that they did not put a roof on when they built The Ballpark in the mid-’90s, may I remind you that the technology was not great then.
At the time, only Toronto had a retractable dome, and to this day, the roof there is unpredictable and finicky. It can only be opened when the temperature is in a certain range. The truth is: That stadium is so obsolete that it has become a joke. The difference is the Blue Jays don’t have owners and city leaders who are forward-thinking enough to know to replace it before it got ugly.
Traveling with the Rangers has taken me
to three stadiums with retractable domes in the past nine months. In Toronto, they could not open the roof for any of the seven games I covered there. It would not have been uncomfortable for fans; it was just that the roof only opens if the temps are in a certain temperature range. I don’t know why – bad technology I guess. But in Seattle and Houston, it was the best of both worlds. One night in Seattle, the roof was open. A shower moved in so they shut it – no delay no problem. Then in Houston, it was too hot to open the roof for batting practice, but as the temps dropped, it became a perfect night for baseball. Tens minutes later, the roof was open.
I have filled this space before with my memories of the early days of The Ballpark in Arlington. My favorite memory during construction was the time George W. Bush had to pull me out of a mud hole on Greene’s Hill. I was exploring the area wearing hip waders for a feature story on NBC5, and I literally got stuck in the mud.
My favorite memory once the construction was complete was standing on the field in 2010 and realizing that the Rangers were going to the World Series for the first time in history. There were hugs all around that night. The most significant were with the people who got it. The people who, like me, had been around a long time waiting, hoping, praying this day would come. It was the best night that stadium has ever had.
Clearly, I am going to miss Globe Life Park in Arlington.
But if we don’t act now, the next Rangers ballpark might not be in Arlington.
There are other municipalities salivating at the opportunity to build an air-conditioned palace for the Rangers. I have nothing against those cities.
I don’t blame them for wanting the Rangers, but I want the Rangers to stay home in Arlington, Texas.