ARLINGTON -- There is air conditioning at Globe Life Field, and it works. So does the electricity.
The 10,000-ton air conditioner, which will cool the entire park, has been installed and is working in certain enclosed areas of the construction site. It runs on the electricity that will power the ballpark rather than on the portable generators that were used to begin construction.
“A lot of the pipes have been installed, and a lot of the wires and duct work have been installed,” said Rangers vice president of project development Jack Hill. “We just need the roof completed [to] balance out the system.”
All of this work is being done around the clock by 1,400 workers at the Rangers' new ballpark, which is being built across the street from Globe Life Park. Hill said the project is 70 percent done and on target for a March 1 completion.
“The hot, dry weather has really helped us,” said Hill, who also managed the construction of AT&T Stadium for the Cowboys and American Airlines Center for the Stars and Mavericks.
There will be approximately 40,300 seats ready to go by the March 23 exhibition game against the Cardinals, with Opening Day scheduled for March 31 against the Angels.
The aforementioned hot, dry weather is why the Rangers are building a new ballpark. The $1.2 billion Globe Life Field has many amenities for players and fans, but No. 1 on the list is the retractable roof.
The big question is how often the roof will be open over the course of an 81-game schedule, and it could be more often than people think, according to Rangers executive vice president Rob Matwick.
Matwick also has construction experience. He was with the Astros in 2001, when they opened Minute Maid Park.
“I know when I was with the Astros, we tried to push it into June,” Matwick said. “But come July and August, it gets difficult to play without a roof.”
The artificial playing surface could allow the Rangers to play more games with the roof open. If the Rangers had a natural surface, the roof would have to be kept open during the day so the sunlight could reach the grass.
That’s not necessary with an artificial surface. The roof can be kept closed while the ballpark is being cooled, up until 15 minutes before first pitch.
“Then you can still continue to circulate the cool air, but still have the open roof,” Matwick said. “The D-backs are doing that in Arizona, and we are looking into that as well. We would love to try it.”
The daily decision to open or close the roof will be made by a number of people, Matwick said. General manager Jon Daniels and the baseball operations department will be consulted.
“We’ll get feedback from the players and from our customers,” Matwick said. “It will be a collective decision, but a lot of it will come from experience as we move into the place.”
Finishing the roof remains the biggest project. Two of the five retractable trusses are in place, and the other three should be done by the end of October. It will take four motors to move the roof, and three are in place. Those motors will be used to move 19,000 tons of steel at an average speed of 39 feet per minute over 405 feet. The roof, which will need 12-15 minutes to open or close, is projected to be done by the end of December.
The Rangers players will also be glad to know that their showers and restrooms have been tiled, and that concrete is being poured for the batting cages and hydrotherapy pool.
“The roof and the air conditioning are obviously what’s most exciting,” Hill said. “But the fans will have so much more to experience here. Different seats and levels, new seating, different hospitality areas. We are going to have a lot of interesting areas for fans to enjoy the game.”