The Rangers and Astros will play a pair of exhibition games at San Antonio's Alamodome next March in the second H-E-B Big League Weekend, officials from the city and Ryan-Sanders Baseball announced in a Friday news conference in the Alamo City.
The teams, who last season were both in the American League West for the first time, will meet at 7 p.m. CT March 28 and 1 p.m. March 29, just days before the start of the regular season. Two-game ticket packages go on sale at 10 a.m. on Nov. 15, with single-game tickets available Dec. 2.
This is the second year in a row the Alamodome will host the event. The Rangers and Padres played a pair of exhibitions in San Antonio prior to the 2013 season. Ryan-Sanders also announced Friday a two-year extension of the event beginning next year.
"The Rangers are very happy to be returning to San Antonio and Big League Weekend in 2014," Rangers president of baseball operations Jon Daniels said. "Ryan-Sanders Baseball put on a first-class event in 2013 and did an amazing job in converting the Alamodome into a Major League Baseball facility. The reception we received playing before the tremendous fans of the San Antonio area was outstanding, and we look forward to another great series."
More than 75,000 fans packed the Alamodome earlier this year when Texas hosted San Diego for two games. It was the first baseball event in the building's 20-year history.
"I thank Ryan-Sanders Baseball and the Texas Rangers for inviting us to play in these games," Astros president of business operations Reid Ryan said. "San Antonio is a great baseball town, and being able to take part in Big League Weekend gives us the chance to play in front of all our fans in South Texas."
Ryan-Sanders Baseball collaborated with AstroTurf last year to build a 133,000 square-foot custom field for the Alamodome floor. In addition to the turf, 300 cubic yards of dirt was brought in for the base around the infield. Custom dugouts, bullpens, netting and walls were also installed. The overall conversion took almost three weeks. This time, the group plans to convert the dome in just three days.
"Seeing the Alamodome transform into a baseball field showed just how diverse the building is. We are thrilled to again have the opportunity to host two MLB teams in San Antonio," convention and sports facilities director Michael Sawaya said.
There will be some slight modifications next year. The bullpens, which were previously hidden in the two South End tunnels, will now be located down the first- and third-base lines. The entire field will be moved slightly toward center field so that fans on the third-base line have a better view. Additional lighting is also being installed to brighten the corners of the field.
A March 27 Hall of Fame luncheon will be held as part of the event, with well-known Astros and Rangers attending. There will also be the Big League Weekend Sports Collectable Show, hosted by Sports Collectibles of Houston, located on the south end of the club level of the Alamdome. Admission is free with a game ticket.
The extension of the agreement between the city and Ryan-Sanders is only the first of two possible extensions that could take the event through 2017.
"We couldn't be happier with the way the first year turned out," Ryan-Sanders CEO Reese Ryan said. "Our goal has always been to promote the game of baseball, and we're very appreciative of our partners with the city and also the [Double-A] San Antonio Missions. They [Missions] have been bringing baseball to the fans in San Antonio for over 100 years. We couldn't have done this without them."
The Astros announced in September they were playing two exhibition games against the Veracruz Red Eagles of the Mexican Baseball League on March 29-30 at Minute Maid Park.
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.