Should the Texas Rangers Ballpark Move Downtown, With a Roof?

After Dan posed his question Monday about whether we’d prefer early-morning or late-night games at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, the official D Magazine Twitter account proposed that the real solution was to build a retractable roof stadium in downtown Dallas.

Some of our Twitter followers endorsed the idea. Patrick Kennedy said he’d put it in Fair Park, rather than downtown proper. Others said the Rangers have a beautiful ballpark already, in a great location, so no need to waste money.

Now Bud Kennedy of the Star-Telegram notes that a group paid to put up a billboard along I-30 asking for baseball to be brought to Dallas. Kennedy’s response is that Dallas lost its chance to have the Rangers decades ago, and why can’t Dallas just share its Major League team with Fort Worth anyway? But I feel like developer Craig Schenkel, who helped fund the billboard:

“Houston put their team right downtown where there’s some atmosphere,” he said. “For all I care, the Rangers could move to Fort Worth. That downtown is cool. I’d just prefer they be in my city.”

The Astros’ Minute Maid Park is a huge improvement over their previous home, the Astrodome. As much as I believe that baseball was meant to be played outdoors, I also believe that games are much more enjoyable to watch when the temperature isn’t 95 degrees-plus. I get out to Rangers Ballpark five or six times a year, at least, so I know what of I sweat.

And anyone who’s been to Wrigley Field or Fenway Park can’t help but laugh when a fan refers to Rangers Ballpark as “beautiful.” No stadium surrounded by nothing but a sea of parking lots (as many are) truly has a right to that adjective.

39 comments on “Should the Texas Rangers Ballpark Move Downtown, With a Roof?

  1. Anything that brings more people downtown for non work related reasons I’m all for.

    That being said, I couldn’t give a tiny rat’s ass about baseball.

  2. More on this later, but the Rangers could potentially make the money spent on moving to Dallas back in a couple of years, if they could wring out better attendance through climate control and better real estate.

  3. Yes, the Rangers should be downtown. Make sure it is close to a light rail/TRE transfer so the fine folks in Fort Worth can still attend games without having to drive through scary ol Dallas. Get a roof on that sucker and chop down about 5-10k seats to give it a bit more intimate feel. Most importantly, get the AA team out of Frisco so you’re not cannibalizing support and dollars from the big league club. I’ll contend that one of Tom Hicks’ biggest mistakes was basically abandoning the Collin County fanbase by parking the Roughriders up there.

    I can’t help laugh when a fan refers to Wrigley as beautiful. It’s a cramped, decrepit, smelly dump of a stadium surrounded by overpriced bars, restaurants, and other assorted tourist traps.

  4. This should have been a no-brainer several years ago. MLB did a study and found that Rangers Ballpark is the hottest non-roofed park – and it’s not even very close (it beat out Kansas City and Atlanta by several degrees of average in-season temperature).

    For years we’ve been losing out on top pitchers, in part, because of the Ballpark (the heat, combined with the “jet stream”). The typical response that “both teams have to play in the same heat” doesn’t matter when the issue is the perception of the players in making their decision not to play here.

    Finally, because there are 81 home games a year, it’s essential that ballparks be convenient. People don’t mind spending hours traveling to and from a football game, because there are only 8 home games a year, and most of them are on the weekends. With 81 games – most of which are mid-week – a ballpark has to be convenient in order for people to want to go more than a few times a year.

    I think Rangers Ballpark is beautiful, but the desolate setting is a big negative, and the other factors (mentioned above) clearly outweigh any notions of aesthetics or tradition.

  5. No doubt the Ballpark is beautiful! And no doubt I’d SO love to have a ballpark downtown! But the reality is that when the team is winning people show up regardless of the weather. And can we stop overrating Fenway- it’s an historic ballpark but it and the area surrounding it are far from being “beautiful”.

  6. They oriented the Cowboys Stadium’s axis directly towards the Rangers ballpark purposefully so there is a visually link from within the Cowboys stadium (and as late afternoon games prove, a incorrect orientation). I think Jerruh might step in and nix any move for that alone. There are still plans brewing out there in Arlington to add more development to that area, so if you think the Rangers are moving, think again.

  7. The Rangers attendance through the All-Star break this season, 49 games, is 1,804,588 for an average of 36,828. In 2010 the attendance through the ASG, 50 games, was 1,357,770 for an average of 27,155.

    Almost 10,000 more people a game have been at the Ballpark this year over last year even though it has been hotter this year.

    It’s not the weather that keeps people from coming to a game, it’s the product on the field. When you’re winning people are going to come out, no matter how hot it is.

    Besides, the Rangers and the new owners aren’t going to make $15+ million in Ballpark improvements if they were thinking of moving anytime soon.

  8. That opportunity was lost twice:

    Rangers placed in Arlington originally.

    New ballpark built in Arlington.

    It’s too late to get the Rangers into downtown Dallas now. And it would not help attendance as much as you think. Subtract Tarrant County fans who wouldn’t want to travel alllll the way east.

  9. @ts: I don’t think the Rangers are moving, or will move, either. But, wait — are you suggesting Jerry would block it because he likes seeing the Ballpark in the background from Cowboys Stadium?

  10. I’d absolutely love this move, but financially is it realistic? While I’d prefer it in Dallas, placing it in downtown FTW would be pretty cool too.

  11. James — Have you actually ever been to Fenway? Taken the tube to Kendall Square? Hung out around Yawkey Way? It’s a great ball park in a great city in a terrific bustling urban neighborhood.

    And the Rangers desperately all of that if they want to build a franchise for the ages. Which I believe Nolan Ryan wants very much.

  12. @Zach The Stadium was oriented in the direction it is for that very reason. I’m sure Jerruh considers it a lovely backdrop for that monument to his ego.

  13. Agree with MCC. I live in Plano and would rather go to Frisco for 5 dollar parking, and 3 dollar beers, all while watching decent baseball. I have gone to one Ranger game in 5 years. I used to go to 5 a year.

  14. @ts: I don’t doubt that. It just seems unlikely that he would block a move for that reason. For instance, if the team moved he could tear down the Ballpark and build a gigantic statue of himself there. Just spitballing.

  15. Considering the Rangers’ lease at the ballpark is between the team and the city/city controlled entity that owns RBIA, Jerry and the Cowboys have no way to block or impair the Rangers from moving to new digs, in Dallas, Arlington, or otherwise.

  16. Have any of you been to Minute Maid park? Its on an island, the area surrounding it absolutely sucks. Crime, empty buildings, NO NEW development, and SURROUNDED by parking lots! It is a horrible example of a downtown ballpark. And don’t get me started on the roof. It kills ALL the great baseball atmosphere. If you watched the ASG last night, then you would know that the crowd was dead.

    The Rangers and the city of arlington just pumped millions in the TBiA over the last few years, there is ZERO chance of a move in the next 15 years.

  17. One of the modern ways to build a continual winner in baseball is to acquire free agents to augment the team. We will never be seriously considered by free agent premium pitchers until we get out of that oven in Arlington.

  18. @ts: How would Jerry block it anyway? He has no say in how the Rangers or the City of Dallas do their business.

  19. Have to agree.

    Its time for the baseball team to be where it belongs…in the downtown of the large city with a roof.

    The Cowboys will come to their senses in 15-20 years and realize that the Arlington scene isn’t where their paying fans are, and move back over here…the only reason they aren’t is Arlington citizens fell (again) for the taxation model that is ending in pro sports.

    Ft Worth is cool and all, but lets be realistic. 75%+ of the people in the metro area live within 15 minutes of downtown Dallas, not Arlington or Ft Worth.

  20. @AK: You really think Jerry wouldn’t be able to swing any influence on this? His stadium was built to be the centerpiece of a much larger master plan. I suspect having another key component of that master plan (the Ranger’s ballpark) leaving would be something that might get his attention. Just saying.

  21. 1. Wrigley is a hellhole. If you want to watch a game there, go to a rooftop.

    2. If you really want the Rangers to be someone’s downtown with a roof, then it needs to be in Ft. Worth.

    3. What would possess Jerry to ever move the Cowboys? His fans aren’t going to *not* drive to anywhere he puts his stadium. He could put the next one by TMS and still get great crowds. This is the same thing the Rangers have to consider — how many additional fans would they gain, versus how many they’d lose, if they moved out of Arlington.

  22. “James – Have you actually ever been to Fenway? Taken the tube to Kendall Square? Hung out around Yawkey Way? It’s a great ball park in a great city in a terrific bustling urban neighborhood.”

    Ditto. LOVE the vibe there.

  23. The Rangers Ballpark should be at the current site of the Valley View Mall. Dallas grew north, not west and not south. The population base, incomes and transportation access via the Tollway and the 635 would be vastly superior to the current oven in Arlington. With all the restaurants and bars in Addison and along Preston, a ballpark there would be a home run. And with a retractable roof.

  24. Stadiums are money pits, if the Rangers want to pay the entire cost to build a stadium in Dallas, great, but public financing has proven time after time after time to be a waste of money, go fool someone else, we have a lot better uses for our money.

    Secondly, if stadiums are so great, why is there no Glorypark? Why was the area around Texas Stadium always such a dump? Why is Victory so desolate? Reunion Arena?

  25. @John M: That’s because too many developers actually think a stadium or arena will be a successful anchor for their development, rather than create a project that stands on it’s own merit that just happens to have a stadium as an amenity on the rare occasion it brings added revenue. Victory project is a fine example of this. Victory’s leasing strategy and general poor layout (one-sided retail?) was the frosting on top of their cupcake of failure.

  26. People who look at the attendance numbers are missing the point. While having an extra 5,000 people in the upper deck is nice, it’s not as nice as selling two extra suites.

    That’s where the Ballpark is really antiquated and where the Rangers are really leaving a lot of money on the table by staying in Arlington. If they were in Downtown Dallas, I guarantee my firm and many others would have a suite to entertain clients and prospective clients. As it is, we used to have a partial season ticket package for the Rangers, but we had to give it up because we couldn’t give the tickets away. Even baseball fans can’t go without advance notice, because you have to leave Downtown before 6:00. So it’s impossible to give away tickets on the day of the game. That wouldn’t be a problem with a downtown ballpark.

    The other big problem the Ballpark has is that it’s not equipped for really high-dollar club seats. The Rangers are never going to get $2,000 for a ticket like the Yankees, but if they outfit a new ballpark with club seats like what the Yankees have, they will get $500 a seat for them.

    And then there’s the whole PSL thing . . . .

  27. Why not build the first hovering stadium? These land based ones are so last century! They could have it hover over the Calatrava bridge and at sunset it would be the most splendid sight in all the metroplex! No, scratch that! The Universe!

  28. Downtown Dallas would be wise to gather the parcels of land (read=Reunion Arena/Convention Center or Farmers Market) and make a pitch.

    Mass transit is altogether lacking in Arlington (Jerry will see to it that there is never DART or T service to his shrine) and the various claims of development in the area will never come to pass, unless that Wal-Mart counts.

    Fair Park is an option if you shutter the Gexa Pavilion and cut into the Midway, but downtown is best.

  29. I live in Fort Worth, but I would go to more games in a climate controlled stadium in Dallas than I go to in the hot box.

    If it was a climate controlled stadium with a sound system that somehow was magically wired to only broadcast the game call and not exploding video screens and random snippets of 80s heavy metal even better.

  30. @ Brenda- Yes, been to Fenway a number of times. You’re confusing the “vibe” and the “urban setting” with the beauty of the surrounding area. Agree, Fenway has a great game day atmosphere (maybe the best in MLB)- but the ballpark itself is not a beautiful park(IMO) nor is the area surrounding it. It’s just an urban neighborhood…

  31. @TS: I really believe Jerry couldn’t swing enough influence there. The Rangers have plenty of money and influence of their own. The world isn’t Jerry’s pawn – he couldn’t even get his stadium deal in Dallas, remember?

    That having been said, I wish the Ballpark would have been built in downtown Dallas. Make it a casual affair – last second, after work, “let’s grab a hot dog and beer, jump on the DART, and catch the Rangers.” As it is, going to the Ballpark is a major event with major planning.

    That same reason is why I think Arlington is fine for the Cowboys. Cowboys games ARE an event. Travel 45 minutes for a major event? No problem. There are 8 home games plus playoffs (ha!). You make an event of each one. You take the day (90% of the time, a Sunday without work) and it’s an outing.

    On the other hand, there are 81 home baseball games. Those are not events – those are nice pastimes. (The national pastime and all.) Many of which are on weeknights. For that, a key location for casual visiting would be a boon, in my opinion.

    The Ballpark is still too new to replace. Especially since Dallas isn’t exactly in the business of putting up money for stadiums right now. In 20 years, it’s possible. But I just don’t see it happening before then – land is expensive, stadiums are expensive (especially talking retractible roof).

    Even then, don’t count Arlington. They know how to woo a team with sweet deals (money talks), and their historical significance to the Rangers would have Mr. Vandergriff rolling in his recent grave if they were to move. I think Arlington would do what they could to keep the Rangers from moving.

  32. @James — IMHO gotta question your definition of “beautiful.” Walk out of Fenway, south on Yawkey Way 5 short blocks and you run into the Fens (park and river) — and the entrance of the Museum of Fine Arts. Walk north a few blocks, Back Bay. You are surrounded by Boston University. Boylston Street. I’m a 5th generation Texan with half my family living in Boston. Dallas/Fort Worth doesn’t even come close to comparing, vibe wise, beauty wise, and especially baseball wise. We could definitely use us some “Boston beauty.”

  33. Y’all are wimps about the Texas summers. Baseball should never be played indoors. Minute Maid in Houston is in a terrible part of town, but the real problem is that it is a party where they happen to play baseball. Rogers Center in Toronto is near downtown also, but with the roof closed it feels like nap time. Chase in Phoenix has the worst acoustics anywhere – a continuous low buzz because crown noise reverberates. The Rangers Ballpark in Arlington will be there for a very long time to come. The crowds will keep keeping larger as long as the team wins. Remember when the Mavs couldn’t draw a quorum and gave tickets away? Not that long ago. The Ballpark is a great place to go with your family – reasonable seat prices, easy parking, and most of all, a winning team. Dallas could have had both the Cowboys and Rangers. Too bad, so sad.

  34. Just came back from Chase Field for the All Star game and it was great to be in the air conditioning during a hot summer game.. parks like Milwaukee, Houston and Arizona are nice simply because of the A/C.

  35. First of all, The Rangers Ballpark opened in 1994, so the idea that it’s time to build a new stadium is absurd. Secondly, it’s generally a terrible and dated idea to integrate a superblock building such as a modern baseball stadium into a city grid, as it destroys the connectivity of the streets downtown. Fenway and Wrigley are smaller ballparks, thus they fit within the existing city grid. Lastly, Dallas already has a generator of urban form in Uptown, it’s called the American Airlines Center, and Victory Plaza is generally a ghost town most of the time. Until the citizens of Dallas embrace high density, walk able, organic developments, you’ll never have a truly urban environment. Ditch your cars, require shading devices along the ground level of buildings, set minimum occupancies for buildings in the uptown/downtown area, and require zero site line setbacks for all buildings in that area. Credentials: Architect/Urban Designer

  36. You metroplex people are such wimps, especially that person from Plano. I live in Lubbock and drive up for games during the summer and it is no sweat. Heaven for bid I would have to drive ALL THE WAY FROM PLANO to watch a game.

    The Ballpark is in a GREAT location and I have a great time every time I go Heat or no Heat.

    KEEP BASEBALL OUT OF DALLAS!

  37. The City of Dallas is the biggest impediment to moving the Rangers. The “business climate” in Dallas is like a box of chocolate…you never know what you’re gonna get. The new mayor seems business friendly, but he is 1/16th in charge and the rest of the city council is up in the air. Between redistricting, FBI raids, and furious internal squabbling I’d say their plates are full for a while.
    Arlington has proven that they will agree to most anything, certainly not let private property or a little extra sales tax stand in the way of a deal. They built the new stadium in the parking lot of the old stadium…I don’t see why they wouldn’t do that again if they don’t find a way to put a roof on that thing before too long.
    It’s a sure fire way to sell the place out for 81 games and maybe even use Jerry’s idea and attract other users of the stadium when the Rangers are not playing.

  38. I wish there was a way to move stadiums. Like, deconstruct them into movable pieces & have them put back together again. I would want the ballpark & cowboys stadium to be in downtown, where it should be! It’s ridiculous that they’re in arlington, it’s just too far & desolate, no mass transportation (i.e. Dart) & most importantly, it would enhance the downtown area. It’s the dallas cowboys, not arlington cowboys!