ARLINGTON -- The roof is going up at the Rangers' new Globe Life Field, a process that began in October with the first trusses being installed and will continue for a full year.There will be 33 steel truss sections in all, with each one weighing 2.4 million pounds. In all, the
ARLINGTON -- The roof is going up at the Rangers' new Globe Life Field, a process that began in October with the first trusses being installed and will continue for a full year.
There will be 33 steel truss sections in all, with each one weighing 2.4 million pounds. In all, the retractable roof is expected to weigh 19,000 tons when the new ballpark opens in 2020.
Just as fascinating is the ETFE architecture that will be installed around the facility and allow transparent natural lighting. That will keep Globe Life Field from taking on a dark atmosphere often associated with facilities when their retractable roof is closed. That is just one of multiple state-of-the-art features being incorporated and will separate Globe Life Field from other climate-controlled ballparks.
"We really wanted to overcome that [darkness] by using ETFE and allow as much light into the facility as we can," Rangers executive vice president Rob Matwick said on Tuesday, when the Rangers unveiled a replica model of the facility and offered many new details of the ballpark.
To get an idea of what the Rangers' new home will look like, fans should check out the Globe Life Field Sales Center on the south side of the current ballpark in what was formerly the Hall of Fame room.
"It's exciting to see the model and elements that are being constructed right across the street," Matwick said. "What is amazing to watch is all the activity that is going on at the construction site on a daily basis. It is really fascinating. There is a lot of anticipation. These are one of those opportunities that don't come along very often. It is an amazing opportunity for everybody."
As the construction progresses, the Rangers are actively discussing a number of elements that are important to their fans. One is the playing surface.
There is a segment of fans that wants natural grass, which has often been regarded as physically less demanding on players. But the D-backs are switching from grass to a new synthetic turf specifically designed for baseball. The D-backs believe their new turf has performance and health benefits that did not exist with other forms of artificial surfaces.
A decision has not been made, Matwick said. The Rangers' construction leadership is planning a trip to Arizona after the new year to study the progress made by the D-backs.
"The decision we make will be while consulting with our baseball guys," Matwick said. "We want to give the players the best surface, whether it is grass or artificial. Keep in mind, not every grass is perfect. We're looking at the best options. We are not at that point yet to make a decision."
Other factors include wind and weather when the roof is open, and the dimensions of the playing field. Matwick said the field will have an asymmetrical design similar to Globe Life Park, although the exact dimensions have not yet been determined.
• Rangers unveil logo honoring Globe Life Park
Matwick said the goal will be to have a park that is fair for both pitchers and hitters. One benefit of a retractable roof is attracting free-agent pitchers who weren't interested in pitching in the intense Texas summer heat. The Rangers don't want to negate that by building a facility that favors hitters.
"I think it will play fair," Matwick said. "Taking the heat out of the equation has to be beneficial so the pitchers can pitch deep in the game and not be taxed. Taking the heat out of the equation is a big factor."
Matwick said 85 degrees will likely be the threshold for determining if the roof is open or closed. An open roof will also subject the ballpark to the prevailing winds that have often had a major impact on previous facilities in Arlington.
Fierce southern winds blowing in from the outfield made it tough on hitters at the old Arlington Stadium. The Ballpark in Arlington was supposed to be fair to both sides when it opened in 1994. But renovations in 2000 that enclosed the seating bowl behind home plate created a jet stream that turned it into a hitter's box.
Matwick said the Rangers have put the new facility through different wind tests to judge impact. The final verdict won't be known until games are played there.
"This facility we can take the wind out of play, certainly when the roof is closed," Matwick said. "We have done wind tunnel studies to see how the reactions might be with the roof open versus the roof closed. It's a little tricky on how to predict it, but you want it to play fair. The studies we had didn't show anything alarming with this structure."
Matwick said there will be some flexibility with the dimensions of the new ballpark. The outfield fences could be moved back or brought in after a year or two, depending on how the ballpark plays.
"The objective of the baseball people is to have a park that plays fair," Matwick said.
There is still much to work out before Opening Day 2020, but so far the construction is progressing on time and according to schedule.
"But we are not going to be comfortable until we walk into the building on the first day for the first game," Matwick said.
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.