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Making Dallas Even Better

This Year’s Texas Rangers Are a Great Baseball Team. Wish They Had a Great Ballpark.

Rangers Ballpark looks downright quaint next to JerryWorld.  Photo by Eric Kilby/Flickr
Rangers Ballpark looks downright quaint next to JerryWorld. Photo by Eric Kilby/Flickr

Apologies in advance about bringing up this point again, but the Texas Rangers really should have built their ballpark downtown. (Maybe even if that downtown were Fort Worth’s.) The home of our local Major League Baseball franchise is an oddity, in that of the 21 new MLB ballparks that have opened since 1992, it’s the only one distantly located from the dense urban environs of its region’s major city.

Rangers Ballpark isn’t going anywhere. The team has invested millions in the place the past couple off-seasons. So we’re going to have to continue to enjoy only a mediocre stadium experience to accompany the great baseball being played on the field.

Jonah Keri of Grantland has started a ranking of the 35 MLB ballparks he’s visited in his life (including several now-closed stadiums). He’s started at the bottom of the list, and the Rangers are there, at No. 23.  The ranking isn’t so bad, actually (ahead of new Yankee Stadium, the Angels, and the Braves, at least). But Keri’s words must sting a little, because they certainly ring true.

23. Rangers Ballpark, Arlington: You can make a strong case for Rangers Ballpark as the most ordinary of all the next-generation stadiums built during the ’90s and early aughts. The architecture’s nice enough, with plenty of red brick on the outside, with bunting adorning the big structure out behind center field. Also, how many other ballparks advertise a hot dog that has a 42 percent chance of killing you by the sixth inning? Mostly, this is a me-too edifice with nothing around it except hotels and a Six Flags that offers the bonus of stultifying weather for 85 percent of the season.

  • mdunlap1

    He’s right. Great parks are set in urban places that blend in with the city, letting people walk to games, pre-game in the streets and bars just outside, etc.

    Unfortunately the Rangers built a park surrounded by parking lots in a cow pasture way outside the city.

  • D. Shapiro

    He doesn’t rank the Ballpark so much as he ranks what is and isn’t around the Ballpark.

  • mdunlap2


  • Jackson

    I kind of agree with @D Shapiro: complaints almost always emphasize the bland setting alongside a major highway in-between there and here (sorry, Arlington), and that is the absolute downside. But it is more than “nice enough” once there, and once within its confines. The Fenwayesque porch in right is nice, and people may not remember, but for the first decade after the park opened 19 years ago, there was not a decorative brick retaining skirt running along the area behind home plate and extending down the first and third base lines, à la Wrigley in Chicago. The background looked positively unfinished on TV. I like to take small credit for the correction. I brought it up to management way back when, and was told that a fair amount of that brick had been set aside in a nearby warehouse for years in anticipation of maybe needing it to replace or repair an outer ballpark wall someday. I said, “If you got it, use it.” They finally did.

  • SDM

    +1. Our actual ballpark experience is wonderful, very far from a “mediocre stadium experience” as you call it. It would be nice is if was closer but if they put it in downtown FtW I’d go less. Their hands were tied, they have 2 big market to appease. But the stadium itself is great. Complaining about what is around it should not be a knock on the ballpark, it can be a knock on your overall day. In a way, maybe it’s better there is nothing around it, that way people actually go inside and get in their seats as opposed to drinking in bars around the park.

  • Chris

    this is stupid. The ballpark experience is one of the best. The location is ideal for the majority of the metroplex.

    I have no idea if Fort Worth or Dallas offered any funds to move the Rangers in the late 80’s or early 90’s.

  • todd

    I love it when people who don’t write the checks tell those who do how and where they should run their business.

  • JSSS

    I don’t mind the location as much as the lack of a dome. I simply refuse to go to the ballpark between about the middle of June and the beginning of September. And yes, I am not a true baseball fan … but they need people like me (and families like mine) to attend games because true baseball fans are not going to sell out that ballpark every night.

  • SybilsBeaver

    There are no cow pastures out there moron. And there are plenty of people who live around the ballpark and walk to the games and go the bars and restaurants that surround the ballpark

  • SybilsBeaver

    nope, neither city made an effort to have them when they moved nor have attempted to lure them since, so while all the moaners complain it way out in the middle of nowhere, NO, its actually situated perfectly between the regions 2 major cities

  • Mark

    I enjoy Jonah Keri’s work, but he needed to do a little more research here.

    TBA was not a “me-too”, it was one of the first to move away from the approach for much of the previous 25 years where baseball facilities were either multi-purpose or had symmetrical playing surfaces. Go back and read the reviews from 1994 (nationwide, not just from DFW) and tell me this was a “me-too”.

    If you want to see true “me-too” mentality from the early 90s, cast your eyes upon downtown St. Petersburg.

  • Mike

    It’s all the highway’s fault. We should tear down I30 then there would be coffee shops that would increase the ranking dramatically.

  • Eric Williamson

    No one walks to the games, due to distance. But biking might work for some. I tried to find a bike rack at the ballpark last week. Zero racks.

  • Ron

    Because of the layout of the DFW area we dont have the large dense urban environment like the other cities where the MLB plays. On top of that we dont have the developed public transportation system that hose urban ball parks rely on to get the fans into the park.
    Having the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington is a compromise that works for this market.
    I would would like to have rail access to the area so you dont have to deal with parking I dont foresee that happening any time soon if ever.

  • Ron

    Way outside which city? We have two very different urban cores in this area.

  • James the P3

    It is a “me-too” ballpark in that the trend for “throwback” ballparks was set by Oriole Park and Camden Yards. That’s not a complaint, necessarily. But unlike Camden Yards, the architects of the Ballpark went out of their way to make it derivative in a misplaced effort to turn everything into an homage to other ballparks (e.g., Fenway’s manual scoreboard in left field, Tiger Stadium’s home run porch, Yankee Stadium’s roof facade).

    The Rangers leave a lot of money on the table by not being in a downtown ballpark. Their location in Arlington makes it tough to sell suites and club seats to the types of corporations that would ordinarily buy such things, because it’s impossible to give tickets to clients at the last minute. There aren’t any law firms in Arlington, because it’s not the county seat, and all the financial services and accounting firms are in Dallas. Beyond that, the Ballpark isn’t designed to have the types of amenities that are going to demand super-high dollar club seats of the type that you see at Yankee Stadium.

  • Mike Truscott

    I love ‘the Ballpark’, I hate the ‘in Arlington’. Anyone who says the Ballpark experience is as good as anywhere else is wrong. Being able to walk or take public transit to a game in a reasonable amount of time cannot be understated.

  • Trace

    Any community in the extended DFW region has, or will have — by design — good access to DFW airport. That means that community will also have similarly good access to the stadiums in Arlington.

    Suppose that a stadium is built in either downtown. Then, as a consequence of high population growth in the DFW region a second professional franchise in that sport might well become justified, perhaps within a decade. If that happens, then the market for that professional franchise will split. That might be great for the fans, but less so for the team’s owners since the value of a franchise is (at least partially) based on fan base.

  • SybilsBeaver

    3+ million people last year and average 39,500 fans a game this year disagree completely. There are law firms in arlington and large businesses as well…G.M. and Siemens seem to be large neighbors to them.

  • Jackson

    Thanks, @James the P3 for the correction re the porch in right being derivative of Tiger Stadium, not Fenway as I’d written.

  • mjcco

    There’s no reason they can’t build over or near some of the parking lots to include tailgate-friendly shops, courtyards, walking trails, reflecting pools, fountains, restaurants and hotels and nightlife venues and then bring an Arlington people mover in to connect the outer hotels with DART. The problem isn’t that they need to build a ball park downtown. The problem is a serious lack of imagination for those running the Arlington complex. It’s a beautiful place and well-maintained, but if it’s spaced so far apart that people feel isolated, then they’ll go somewhere else and then just attend the game.