Rangers, Arlington announce new ballpark

Retractable-roof facility will be opened by 2021

May 20th, 2016

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers and the City of Arlington have reached an agreement for a new state-of-the-art ballpark to be opened by 2021. The new ballpark, which was announced at a news conference on Friday at City Hall, will be climate-controlled with a retractable roof and will be built across Randol Mill Road on the south side of Globe Life Park.

"The Texas Rangers have chosen to stay in Arlington, Texas," Arlington mayor Jeff Williams said. "Our families and business leaders understand the Texas Rangers have been one of our strongest economic engines. There weren't any other options. We needed to keep the Texas Rangers in Arlington.

Both sides are contributing $500 million to the project. The Rangers will be responsible for cost overruns. The city's contribution, through an extension of existing taxes, must be approved via a public referendum in the Nov. 8 general election. The city will own the ballpark, while the Rangers will design and build it. The agreement runs through January 1, 2054.

"This [referendum] is going to pass," said Williams. "There are too many benefits for the Rangers and the city of Arlington."

Rangers owner Ray Davis, who started coming to games as a fan sitting in the bleachers at Arlington Stadium, said a retractable-roof stadium was a must for the future of the franchise. The Rangers expect a significant increase in their revenues with the new facility.

"It's personal, when I think where our fan base comes from," Davis said. "We service five states. It is our responsibility as owners to make sure our fans have the best fan experience for years to come. We owe it to our fan base in North Texas and five states to give them a fan-friendly, safe, comfortable environment.

"To have a higher-than-average attendance -- especially during the dog days of summer -- allows us to raise revenue and spend more money on players and free agents."

The future of Globe Life Park is still unknown, but most of it will be torn down and converted to other, uses including parking spaces. Some parts may be preserved.

Opened in 1994 as the Ballpark in Arlington, Globe Life Park was acclaimed as an architectural jewel and has served the Rangers well for 22 years. The construction of the Ballpark, overseen masterfully by former club president Tom Schieffer, was a turning point in the Rangers becoming a first-class Major League franchise. But without climate control and a retractable roof, the ballpark's days were numbered. The current ownership, headed by Davis and Bob Simpson, which bought the team at auction in 2010, wanted a new retractable-roof ballpark almost from the beginning.

"It was our dream," Davis said.

The Rangers looked into the possibility of a retractable roof at Globe Life Park, but they found it unpractical or too expensive.

"It's difficult to add new technology to an old facility," Davis said. "The construction of a new facility with a retractable roof and so many other amenities would allow us to enhance that experience in a manner that is not presently possible."

The City of Arlington was concerned that Dallas would try to lure the Rangers away, and Davis said Arlington was "proactive" in getting a deal done and the Rangers were, too, because they were bound to their lease through 2023. This allows them to move into a new stadium at least three years earlier possible than with another city.

"That was very compelling," Davis said. "The Rangers have had a long and very successful partnership with the City of Arlington."

Added Williams: "We didn't want to lose the Rangers. This was our time. This was something that was hanging over us, and we wanted taken care of [it]. We wanted to assure we had the Texas Rangers. It's a source of community pride."

The Rangers have just begun the design process, but the new ballpark will likely seat 42,000-44,000 fans and have natural grass. Davis said the club will look to the classic look of Globe Life Park for inspiration, but will also visit every other ballpark in the Majors to gather ideas.

"I love brick. … I love the classic look," Davis said. "Put a roof on it and I'm happy."

The Rangers' portion of the financing will come through users fees, which could include a tax on admission tickets, a parking tax and revenue from the sale of individual "Stadium Builder Licenses" that enable the holder to buy tickets for certain seats in the new ballpark.

Among those attending the press conference were family members of the late Tom Vandergriff, the former Arlington mayor who was responsible for bringing the Washington Senators to Texas in 1971.

Also there was former Arlington mayor Richard Greene, who worked hand-in-hand with Schieffer in the financing and construction of the Ballpark in Arlington.

"There is only one thing that could make me cry more than the tearing down of the Ballpark in Arlington, and that's losing the Rangers to Dallas," Greene said.