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Deadspin Picks on Texas Rangers Fans

Note the last portion of Rangers Ballpark to be sitting in the sun each evening.    photo by Eric Kilby
Note the last portion of Rangers Ballpark to be sitting in the sun each evening. photo by Eric Kilby

We here at D Magazine are on the record as wishing the Texas Rangers had built their ballpark in downtown Dallas rather than in the middle of a sea of parking lots out in Arlington. (And a retractable roof would have been a nice idea too, given the oven-like conditions of August.)

But you know what? The team drew more than 3.1 million fans this season. That’s down from a record 3.4 million last year, but it’s the second straight season they’ve topped the 3-million mark. Plus, it ranks second in the American League, behind only the New York Yankees. However, Deadspin only wants to talk about the thousands of seats that sat empty on Sunday and during last night’s tiebreaker game against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Has baseball peaked for the time being in Texas? The question of fandom reached an almost existential level the past two days. On Sunday, fans chanted “Baseball Town” at Josh Hamilton,who had made disparaging remarks about the Arlington crowds. More telling were the 9,000 empty seats for a must-win game. Last night, Rangers Ballpark was still about 7,000 people shy of capacity for a one-game playoff, and as the Rangers came to bat in the ninth with one more chance to extend the season, fans in left field attempted to start the wave.

Yes, anybody who attempts to start a wave in the bottom of the ninth of an elimination game should be first against the wall. But the rest of their criticism? Here’s how Rangers public-address announcer Chuck Morgan responded on SB Nation:

There are not too many sports franchises around the country that can sell 25,000 tickets in a 24 hour period for a game that was not scheduled and a game that you and I didn’t even know was going to happen until about 5pm Sunday afternoon. Great fan response from our fans to purchase that many tickets in 24 hours and a great job by our people in our ticket office turning something like that around.

Many of you know this, but those seats in the upper deck in left field are the last to go. I have watched it for 20 years, those catch the sun the most. I have presented a plan for the last 10 years to pull all of those seats out, put in a duplicate scoreboard and the Rangers have a 40,000 to 41,000 seat ballpark than 49,000. Long before oc was thinking about a special section, i proposed reducing the costs up there and putting a nickname on them, “The Dutch Oven” seats. Technology has just gotten to the point where the scoreboard materials are light enough where that area would support a video board, so the folks in Home Run Porch could see a decent replay.

I’m not a fan of adding another giant TV at the Ballpark, but Morgan is right that those seats are often a miserable place to sit. They feel like they’re about a mile from home plate, and they suffer the fullest fury of the setting sun each evening. It’s no wonder there weren’t many takers for them last-minute, even for a do-or-die game.

Still, I bet if a bunch of downtown workers could have walked over to the stadium after leaving the office last night, even those seats could’ve been filled.

  • SybilsBeaver

    So you trade off a bunch of downtown workers for the fans from Fort Worth who wouldnt or couldnt make it to Dallas bc the stadium is now 28 miles from them instead of 14 from Dallas and Ft worth. Would a downtown stadium be cool, absolutely, but I give it to downtown Ft Worth, they sure know how to plan and execute projects that use the river and the city as wonderful backdrops. Somehow, I picture Dallas screwing that up too

  • Jason Heid

    I meant no sleight of downtown Fort Worth. It’s just that if you’re going to pick one side of the area to base a team in, it’d make sense to choose the side with the larger population.

    The Rangers have certainly drawn plenty of people out to Arlington the last couple seasons, but the ballpark’s location means attending a game is more of a to-do, something that feels like it needs to be planned in advance, since you’ve no choice but to fight traffic getting into and out of there.

    If a team wants to fill thousands of seats last-minute, it has to be better positioned for walk-up ticket sales, as it would be in downtown Dallas (or downtown Fort Worth).

  • sooieeehog

    Sleight?

  • todd

    Chanting “baseball town” while 9,000 seats were unoccupied during a must-win game seems ridiculous. It makes me wonder if ole 32 knew what he was talking about.

  • Jason Heid

    Oh, Hamilton’s right that Dallas isn’t a “baseball town.” Just look at the ratings for the Cowboys game on Sunday vs. the Rangers must-win finale against the Angels. The Cowboys game average five times as many viewers.

    And the Rangers’ tiebreaker game against the Rays on Monday night had half as many viewers as the Cowboys drew.

    This is a National Concussion League town.