Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of The Ballpark in Arlington
The following was authored by DMSAS Architect Jon Zubiller. Jon attended Carnegie-Mellon University where he received his Bachelor of Science in Civil & Environmental Engineering and Bachelor of Architecture. Jon joined the firm in 2001.
As we finally (hopefully) break away from this long-winter’s grip, our attention turns to the boys of summer, as they take to the field for the opening of the 2014 baseball season. This will be the 20th time we’ve celebrated this first pitch ritual at our favorite (though we have a slightly biased opinion) major league park, the Texas Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, and in that spirit we’ve compiled the following list of 20 things you may not have known about the home of the Texas Rangers.
1. David M. Schwarz Architects was selected to design Rangers Ballpark in Arlington after beating 16 other firms in a design competition held by the Rangers in 1991. DMSAS also created a master plan for the 320-acre site, the concept of which created a park within a park through a series of paths and landscaped areas.
3. As a nod to the fact that the team is named after the state, and not just the city in which it resides, much of the building’s architectural ornament builds upon Texas’ rich history. The materials of pink granite and red brick reference the state capital, while longhorn and star medallions punctuate the façade and bas-relief panels depict significant Texas historical scenes.
4. The ballpark also pays tribute to the rich history of baseball via iconography, signage and architectural elements. Oversized globe lights are painted to resemble baseballs, wayfinding signage hangs from baseball bat yard arms, arches run the length of the exterior façade in reference to traditional stadiums like Ebbets Field, the column supported and tiered right field porch recalls that of the old Tiger Stadium and a frieze that runs along the field side of the roof is reminiscent of that found at the old Yankee Stadium.
5. The 4-story office building in center field was designed not only to house the team’s front office staff, but to develop an actual use for a necessary wind break that could mitigate nature’s effect on the ball during a game.
6. The center field lawn (now known as Greene’s Hill, named after former Arlington Mayor Richard Greene, who was instrumental in keeping baseball in Arlington in the early 90s) was created as a more aesthetically pleasing “batter’s eye”, and was initially envisioned as a picnic area.
7. The playing field sits 22 feet below street level, allowing fans to enter the stadium gates and get a glimpse of the action on the field immediately as they arrive.
8. Home plate, the foul poles, and portions of the bleachers were reused from the Rangers’ previous home, Arlington Stadium.
9. The approximately 40 foot distance from home plate to the backstop is one of the shortest in MLB, and allows fans to get that much closer to the action.
10. The two 12-acre lakes that frame the home plate entrance provide area for storm runoff and flood prevention.
11. 127 club suites, the most in the majors, are set on two intermediate levels and tucked under the upper deck to avoid the sense that the park is dominated by special seating. This simple design strategy makes the ballpark not only feel more intimate, but in a sense, more democratic in that all fans, regardless of ticket price, have great views of the game.
12. Suites are named after Hall of Fame players, including some of the Rangers’ own Cooperstown inductees: Nolan Ryan, Gaylord Perry and Feguson Jenkins.
13. Sited just a few hundred yards from Texas Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, the DMSAS designed Dr Pepper Youth Ballpark was built in conjunction with the stadium, funded as part of the initial bond referendum. Adorned with iconography similar to the Major League park, it seats 2,000 spectators who can enjoy youth tournaments from March through October.
14. The Ballpark served as the backdrop for the 2002 Disney movie, The Rookie, based on the true story of Jim Morris and his rookie season as a pitcher at the age of 35.
15. In what we see as a sign that a building has truly embodied a community (and one of our favorite awards) the Ballpark has been featured numerous times on the cover of the Arlington phone book.
16. The first official interleague game ever played was held here on June 12, 1997 as the American League Rangers hosted the National League San Francisco Giants.
17. Since the stadium was completed in 1994 it has under gone three name changes. The stadium was originally labeled The Ballpark in Arlington, until May 2004 when it was rebranded Ameriquest Field in Arlington. In March 2007 the name was again changed, this time to the more familiar Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. In February 2014, it was announced that the stadium would be again renamed, this time as Globe Life Park in Arlington, after Globe Life and Accident Insurance Company agreed to a 10-year naming rights deal with the Rangers.
18. Myron Martin, current President and CEO of the DMSAS designed Smith Center for the Performing Arts, was at one time the in-house organist for the Texas Rangers.
19. As part of its grand opening, LegoLand Discovery Center in nearby Dallas recreated Texas Rangers Ballpark in Arlington completely out of Legos.
20. And finally, in the spirit of bringing the runner home: before moving to Texas to become the Rangers in 1972, the team was known as the Senators, and like DMSAS, called Washington D.C. home.
As some other teams may look to abandon their stadiums after only 20 years, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington was designed and built to last for generations and is just stepping into its prime. As then-Rangers President Tom Schieffer said during the dedication of the stadium on opening day in 1994, “Ballparks are museums for memories … the backdrop for people to play out the most touching moments of their lives. They are the places where the grass is always green and hope is always alive.”
We are ecstatic for opening day here in the nation’s capital, and we hope you are too. Now lets play ball!