Yes, I realize this is far-fetched and will probably never see the light of day. But I think The Ballpark was just a couple years too early. The Rangers were among the first to build a new stadium (following Baltimore's lead). Since then, other ball clubs have designed their stadiums around mistakes that The Ballpark, the new Comiskey Park in Chicago, Jacobs Field in Cleveland and even Oriole Park in Baltimore ran into. Had the Rangers waited a few more years, they would have had the luxury to plan around ideas - good and bad - that most of the new stadiums provide. Good examples of that logic are the recently built PacBell Park in San Francisco, PNC Park in Pittsburgh and Enron Field in Houston. Those stadiums are already being ranked above The Ballpark and Jacobs Field (which both opened in 1994).
The biggest mistake (using the same logic) was Comiskey Park, home of the Chicago White Sox (opened in 1991). Had they waited a few more years, they would have built a stadium more welcoming than the "almost cookie cutter" design they are now "stuck" with. Yes, their new stadium has much more luxuries and much more room than the old Comiskey, but the style of the stadium is as boring as any typical 60's-era, enclosed, round, multi-purpose stadium.
The Rangers only had one new, unique ballpark to go off of - Oriole Park. And while they did a good job creating a nostalgic-style ballpark that draws even the non-baseball fans...looking from above, the exterior isn't much different than the 60's era, enclosed, round stadiums...only that The Ballpark is a perfect square (yawn). This has limited the potential of retail and corporate growth around the ballpark, as originally planned. "Opening" the stadium will not only create a new opportunity for the surrounding property, but it will:
- Shed the "perfect square" look
- Create new traffic/flow in and out of the stadium
- Create night life after the games
- Solve the problem of the capacity being "too big," making capacity approximately 46,000.
- Provide a new "Jumbo Tron" for fans in right field to see
- Give the fans and players more breeze to cool off from the Texas heat
- And even affect the play of the game - a welcome change for a struggling pitching staff.
The City of Arlington wants to use land around The Ballpark for an outdoor amphitheater, a proposed Smithsonian Museum, and a possible spot for President George W. Bush's Presidential Library. What better opportunity for those projects than to "open" The Ballpark into the surrounding development? If done right, the Rangers - this time - could be the ones setting a new trend for ballparks across the country.
My father always gave me a certain piece of advice when buying a new car: Never buy a brand new model in its first year of existence. It usually takes a couple years for the car maker to tweak a few things to "get it right." So this is not a complete renovation, or even an overhaul of a brand new stadium. It's simply tweaking a few things here and there to put an already wonderful ballpark - back on top of the list of the "best ballparks in the country."