This is a new weekly feature in which I (and maybe you, too, readers) detail the various reasons for hating your ballpark. This week: Rangers Ballpark In Arlington.
Arlington cemetery: Rangers Ballpark is a monument to every crass instinct in the modern stadium business, a tombstone for good sense, corporate social responsibility and the belief that the public interest is anything but a nice phrase on which to campaign for a terrible bond issue. Everything about it is wrong and vaguely criminal, even — especially — the look of the place. The ballpark takes up an absurd 1.4 million square feet in the midst of that iconic feature of the Texas landscape, the office park. A couple sharp-eyed readers note this below, but the stadium is a mismatched collection of counterfeit parts: You can make out bits of Camden Yards (the red-brick exterior and general air of ye olde ballpark), Tiger Stadium (the home run porch), Yankee Stadium (the frieze), Fenway Park (the out-of-town scoreboard, since removed, that was built into the left-field wall), Comiskey Park (the arched windows), Ebbets Field (the quirks of the outfield dimensions, in this case wholly artificial). The corridor inside was patterned after Chartres Cathedral, which is not unlike modeling the Astrodome after the Kremlin. The ballpark’s architect, David Schwartz, once said, “We tried to downplay the distinctions in class.” Mind you, this didn’t mean that they actually built an egalitarian ballpark with clean sightlines and close proximity to the action. This meant that they built, as the Washington Post put it, “plenty of lucrative luxury boxes, but without making it look that way.” One of the owners at the time, a no-account oilman, would go on to build a political career on the principle of catering to the rich, but without making it look that way.
Eminently Bush league: Rangers Ballpark — more than anything not named Scalia, Rehnquist, Thomas, Kennedy or O’Connor — is what made George W. Bush president. This isn’t an exaggeration. He put up $600,000 of his own money to buy into the team and flipped those shares into a $15 million fortune that he used to launch his political career, a bankroll that owed a great deal to the ballpark generously furnished by taxpayers. The stadium itself was a scandal, an unabashed land grab that lawsuits would later describe as “sordid and shocking” and “astounding, unprecedented and blatantly illegal.” It was also Bush’s signal achievement as an owner. I’ll leave the details to others, but in essence, Bush and his fellow Rangers owners somehow contrived to privatize the city’s power of eminent domain. Then they went shopping. They bought up land on the cheap for the twin purposes of baseball and speculation, and dropped a hideous, plagiarized ballpark in the middle of it all, next to an artificial lake, with thin bands of granite circling the exterior that might as well be police tape.
The view from the stands (everything sic‘d): “Back when the Ballpark opened, in 1994, everyone was in love with the cigar-smoke antiquity of Camden Yards. This included your Texas Rangers, a team that debuted way back in 1972. So the Rangers outfitted their new stadium with a homerun porch (via Tigers Stadium), a frieze (via Yankee Stadium), and an old-timey sign in centerfield that said, ‘Hit It Here and Win a Free Suit’ (via, where, Bill James’ wet dreams?). Those mindless and ahistorical little touches sum up everything you need to know about the Ballpark, and the Rangers, and-if we’re in an expansive mood-Texas history: when all else fails, appropriate by force. Which is also how the Rangers got the land for the Ballpark, but that’s a story for another day.” (Jim Tom Pinch)
“It’s fucking HOT!” (Jeff A.) … “The seats are too small for fans in one of the most obese states in the country. There is dipspit everywhere.” (Dixon M.) … “Created in the image of Camden Yards, The Ballpark in Arlington/AmeriQuest Field, RBIA (Nandrolone Decanoate Field is the most appropriate name since it is, after all, Ground Zero for the steroid era) is a nice facility that just needs a winner. Yes it’s hot. Parking costs $12 or something – big f-ing deal. Blah, blah, blah.” (Sam E.) … “With heroes like Canseco, Palmeiro, and Juan Gonzalez building the foundation for the ballpark, you knew things had to get better right??? I guess not.” (Travis S.)
“It all boils down to one thing: family. Since the Rangers have sucked for a majority of their existence the organization is forced to market the ballpark as a family event. There’s all kinds of stupid childrens’ activities in the outfield, a stupid horse named ‘Captain’ but it gets even worse. You can’t even heckle the opposing team (Swear free) without being asked to stop by an usher.” (Brian H.)
“At the stadium, people are actually ordered to sit down at crucial moments. The stupid ass wave occurs at least twice a game. People aren’t there for the baseball. Most people there don’t even know what baseball is. The sad little plaques around the stadium celebrate the 3 playoff appearances. These netted one victory. One. damn. victory.” (Lauren S.)