ARLINGTON -- Commissioner Rob Manfred was among those in attendance on Thursday for the official groundbreaking ceremony of the Rangers' new ballpark.Globe Life Field, complete with a retractable roof and climate control, is expected to be completed in time for Opening Day 2020."Today is a great day in the history
ARLINGTON -- Commissioner Rob Manfred was among those in attendance on Thursday for the official groundbreaking ceremony of the Rangers' new ballpark.
Globe Life Field, complete with a retractable roof and climate control, is expected to be completed in time for Opening Day 2020.
"Today is a great day in the history of the Texas Rangers and the city of Arlington," Rangers co-owner Ray Davis said. "It's a long time coming, but beginning next week, we are going to start excavating. And in 30 months, we are going to be playing baseball. We are going to hold our feet to the fire in making that happen."
The new facility is being built on 13 acres across Randol Mill Road from Globe Life Park, the currently facility that opened in 1994 as the Ballpark in Arlington. The Rangers and the city of Arlington are sharing the cost of the $1.1 billion facility. Arlington voter approval of the deal was passed last November.
"We have a saying in Arlington, we dream big and we get dreams done," Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams said. "Today we celebrate one of those dreams and how far we have come to making that dream a reality."
The new ballpark will seat approximately 41,000 fans and will sit directly adjacent to the Texas Live! project that is currently under construction. Globe Life Park is also expected to be renovated and incorporated into the overall entertainment complex.
"It really is an amazing project," Manfred said. "I think of it as another example of the commitment of Ray Davis, Bob Simpson, Neil Leibman, the whole Rangers ownership group to building a real winning baseball tradition here in Texas. Every stadium project has it's own timeline and challenges, but I can honestly say I have never seen one that went more smoothly or more quickly than this one. This new ballpark will allow fans of the Rangers and fans in Texas to enjoy baseball in added comfort."
Manfred said the new ballpark will allow the Rangers and Arlington to compete for the privilege of hosting an All-Star Game and the final round of the World Baseball Classic. The Rangers hosted the All-Star Game in 1995 for the first and only time in club history.
"I think that we have a long tradition in baseball," Manfred said. "Where communities make the kind of commitment that Arlington has made here to baseball, that we like to bring special events -- something like an All-Star Game, WBC Final, something like that -- and I think that this is the kind of facility that would be perfect for that."
Hall of Fame catcher Ivan Rodriguez was also at the ceremony. Rodriguez was the Rangers' catcher on Opening Day 1994 when the Ballpark in Arlington opened.
"A lot of great moments in that ballpark," Rodriguez said. "I'm glad to say I was the first catcher to open the ballpark, the first game, and it's good to see that. It's hard to believe by the time this ballpark's open, [Globe Life Park] will be 25 years old. It's still a brand-new ballpark, but it's good. The Rangers are going to a different version, I think, a retractable-roof ballpark is well needed here. Doing that, I think, is going to make pitchers want to come here and love to play here."
T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.