SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers Village is up and running.
By March 7, 150 Minor League players will be staying in the $12.5 million facility that was officially opened Jan. 6 on a vacant lot purchased just 13 months ago. That lot -- located across Bullard Ave., from the Rangers' Spring Training complex -- was still empty last spring while players scrambled to find cheap housing around town or in the West Valley.
But the Rangers were able to build the multi-story complex in just nine months, and now players aren’t forced to cram themselves 4-5 at a time into the rental houses and hotel rooms that don’t come cheap around here.
“This is something that our ownership has wanted for a long time,” said Paul Kruger, the Rangers director of Minor League operations.
This is more than Spring Training housing; the Rangers will use their Surprise complex all year. After the big league team heads for Arlington, there is extended spring camp, the Arizona Rookie League and then instructional league in September and October. Rehab work for injured players never stops, and by January, players start gravitating to Surprise to prepare for the season.
Call ahead if you want to book a room at Rangers Village.
“I think it’s an advantage for us,” Kruger said. “Not necessarily from an acquisition standpoint, but now we have a place these guys can call home 365 days a year. The players can live and grow both on and off the field in a safe environment for them to become the best versions of themselves.”
The Rangers and the Royals have shared a 132-acre Spring Training complex for the past 17 years. The complex has always been first-rate, especially after the city completed significant renovations in 2016.
That was paid for by the city with the idea that the organizations would get equal treatment and facilities.
Rangers Village belongs exclusively to the Rangers, bought and paid for by ownership on land separate from the actual complex.
Between this and the new academy in the Dominican Republic, the Rangers are spending a lot of money beyond Globe Life Field.
“The benefit for us is obviously no rent and a quick, three-minute walk to the clubhouse,” Minor League catcher Matthew Whatley said. “So that’s nice. We have everything we need. The Rangers have obviously done a phenomenal job with this place.”
The facility consists of a two-story common area attached to a three-story residential building. The common area measures 12,753 square feet and includes a lobby/reception area, a dining area, a recreation room and an outdoor patio space on the first floor. The second floor of the common area houses an auditorium, classrooms, a fitness area and a yoga room.
The classrooms allow players to take language classes or learn how to use a computer. Some players take online classes to finish their college degrees.
The residential hall can hold up to 180 players and staff members. This is more than a typical college dormitory but not a luxury hotel. There is no maid service in the rooms.
“We want guys to learn to live on their own,” Kruger said.
There are two-bedroom suites with two players to a room. The quartet shares a living room and kitchen that's situated between the bedrooms. A smart TV is mounted in the living room, pots and pans are in the kitchen and the free laundry room is down the hall.
No maid service, but all the cleaning supplies needed to keep everything spic and span. Those can be found downstairs at the “Convenience Store" along with toilet paper, razors, deodorant and other necessities.
Energy drinks are found at the “Refueling Station.” No beer, wine or any other alcohol is allowed on the premises, but players can fix their own dinners on the three grills on the backyard patio.
“You have to go through grilling class before you can use them,” Kruger said. “We have kids coming in whether they are 16 from the Dominican or 18 from high school who have never lived on their own. They don’t know how to do laundry or cook or clean. This building allows us to have the educational opportunities for them away from their homes and in our care.”
The Rangers aren’t done. Behind this complex, Texas is finishing building the Performance Center. It won’t be ready until later in March, and the Rangers aren’t giving tours.
This is the Area 51 of the Rangers' complex, but it will be a high-tech performance center with far more room for training than currently available across the street in their Spring Training facility.
“Our intent is to provide everything we can for our players,” Kruger said.