In September 2018 I had a wonderful weekend trip to Atlanta where I got to see my beloved Mets (with Jacob deGrom on the hill) face the Braves in the newly minted Truist (then called SunTrust) field and the following evening I attended the first ever regular season game played by the Falcons in their brand-new Mercedes Benz Stadium. As a ‘bonus’, the morning between these games I drove to Rockmart, GA where I crossed of one of my bucket list items by swallowing a few Xanax and then jumping out of a plane at 14k feet!
I mention this because at that point, I had successfully completed my list of attending a game at every major league venue. That distinction it turned out was short lived when the Texas Rangers christened their brand-new shiny stadium , Globe Life Field, at the start of the 2020 season.
My plans to attend a game there early that year what quickly short-circuited by the outbreak of the COVID pandemic which at first postponed the start of the baseball season until late July, then limited any fan attendance at any ballpark to cardboard cutouts.
Fast forward to 2021 and MLB slowly started ramping up allowing spectators into their venues, but with COVID numbers still particularly high in the Lone Star State, I decided I’d hold off one more year.
So, yesterday I finally took the trip into DFW, rented a Ford something or other and drove into Arlington to see this new jewel.
Earlier in the day, I made a pit-stop at the Fort Worth Stockyards to have some amazing BBQ at Coopers!
First impression was the sheer size – Not one of the many retro ballparks built in the ‘90s-‘00s – actually hard to put any kind of a label at all on the style of this ballpark – but the sheer size and ‘newness’ of it really hits you on first contact. The second impression is the small ‘city’ they’ve built around it called ‘Texas Live’ – like Atlanta’s ‘The Battery’ at Truist and similar in some ways to Ballpark Village in St Louis at Busch Stadium (albeit not built out to that degree) – other most other MLB host cities – not really much of anything to do in Arlington away from this complex of entertainment.
Strictly speaking, Texas Live isn’t a new aspect of the Texas Rangers experience (it debuted in 2018), but as the dining and entertainment venue continues to expand it will also continue to enhance outings to the new stadium live entertainment, a luxury hotel next door if you want to make a night of it!
The new stadium was built right across the street from the old one, Globe Life Park (aka ‘The Ballpark at Arlington’) which is only 26 years old itself. The stadium has been renamed Choctaw Stadium (the name of a local casino who purchased the rights) and has been retrofitted for football and soccer.
Unlike its brand-new replacement, The Ballpark in Arlington had a “curb appeal” rivaling any ballpark in baseball. Framed by a 12-acre lake, the exterior design took the traditional red brick archways and punctuated them with a flurry of regional accents and local imagery. The new park is much more grandiose, and its numerous amenities preempt its aesthetics.
One huge difference between them is that the new stadium has a retractable roof that can fully open or close in just 12 minutes. One of the biggest complaints amongst both fans and players concerning the old ballpark was the sweltering heat that was present from late May until the end of the season. For tonight’s game , the outside game time temperature was 93 degrees. Inside it was a comfy 74.
Structurally, Globe Life Field is the most fan-unfriendly ballpark in baseball for getting close to players and exploring different areas unless you have enhanced access. Many new stadiums have garnered reputations of having sharp class distinctions in seating, but Arlington reaches new heights in “ballpark gentrification.”
At Globe Life Field, fans enter the concourse above the second level bowl at street level due to the topography, which is labeled the “main concourse,” and the entire first level below that is construed as premium Meaning, fans cannot access the entirety of the lower bowl concourse in between the foul poles without an appropriate ticket! The “club level” is essentially the lower bowl.
One level above, the ‘District’ concourse offers a high-end, curated experience reminding fans of Arlington history. The Stubhub Club on that concourse serves all-inclusive food and beverages to designated fans sitting on the first base side. Other fans sitting behind home plate have access to the 1920s-themed Speakeasy, the most exclusive space in the ballpark
The park does have what may be the widest and most comfortable padded seats of any in baseball – similar to those found in newer movie theaters. Almost all non-premium seats are 20 inches wide with plenty of foot room between the rows.
Not surprisingly for a new stadium, there is a cutting-edge tech and video systems that is truly ‘Texas sized’ and a great sound system to support it.
The concourses inside are really wide and easy to navigate. Lots of natural light enters the stadium
There is a good amount of displays and exhibits honoring the franchise history and great players. Outside there are two statues, one newly minted one of the Hall of Fame catcher Pudge Rodriguez and another, right in front of the main entrance, of the legendary Nolan Ryan. Ryan’s statue was actually brought over from the old ballpark.
There are numerous “shadow box” displays on the left field concourse showcasing great former players as well as memorabilia, player murals, and other homages throughout the concourses, but the references to team/baseball history are not as impressive as most other ballparks or The Ballpark in Arlington.
The dimensions of Globe Life Field were selected to honor key moments and people in Texas Rangers’ history: “Left Field Line: 329 feet (Adrian Beltre’s #29); Center Field (straightaway): 407 feet (Ivan Rodriguez’ #7); Deepest Distance of Park (both left and right of straightaway CF): 410 feet (Michael Young’s #10), etc.
The highlight of the game came in the first inning when Texas platoon outfielder, Eli White, made what may have been the best catch I’ve ever seen in person at a ballpark robbing the Rays Ji-Man Choi of a certain HR. Choi hit the ball 405 feet into deep left-center field and White leaped at the warning track, falling halfway back into the visitor’s bullpen and snagged the ball to rob Choi of securing his fifth home run of the year, helping keep the game scoreless in the first. To top this off, White also went 3-4 at the plate including a two-run shot in the 2nd to help propel Texas to a 9-5 victory.
Tomorrow, it’s back in my rental car for a 3+ hour drive down to Austin for a few days (stopping in Dallas for lunch at the Pecan Lodge first) then onto San Antonio for 2 more. It is my goal to eat nothing but BBQ for the next 4 days. If this end up being my last post, then there is a good chance that I may have succumbed to my horrible eating choices and/or the sauna like temperature.
Fans – C – On my first trip to Arlington in 2016 (at the old ballpark), the fans seemed more involved and friendly. They were much more subdued tonight
Features – B – Some very nice displays honoring the franchise history and former played. Some nice ‘exclusive’ clubs. Very good sightlines. Comfy seats
Location – C – Not much going on in Arlington aside from this complex. No mass transit to either Dallas or Ft. Worth
Food – C – The old ballpark had more diverse and ‘Texas sized’ options. A couple good chicken places and Brisket egg rolls.
Game – B – White’s catch was a huge highlight. Well played game
Overall Experience – C – A pretty impressive new stadium but completely lacking in the charm and intimacy that I love when I go to see a baseball game. I’m also not a hue fan of indoor baseball.