Having completed my trek to visit all 30 current major league stadiums a few years ago, the Rangers threw me a curve by opening a new park, even though the old one wasn’t that old.
My hope had been to visit the new Globe Life Field when it opened in 2020, but then this thing called COVID happened. Next up was to catch the Twins in Texas last year, but they had the nerve to schedule their series the weekend of my son’s wedding. I love baseball, but they ain’t topping my son. And I would have liked to catch the Twins this year, but it’s the weekend of my mom’s 90th birthday. I like baseball, but they ain’t topping Mama either.
So instead, it was off to Texas on the Take a Tums Tour, where I managed eight straight days of barbecue or chili, topped off with a visit to Arlington today. Here’s one person’s report.
In a word, I’d call Globe Life Field “underwhelming.” But I don’t do just one word, so here’s more.
(Also, I’m a technological nincompoop, sitting in an airport, so I’ll put pictures in the comments rather than trying to embed them in the blog.)
GLF does bring a number of positives. It’s located next to Jerry World, so perhaps it’s taking advantage of Cowboy Fever to have a good amount of parking nearby. The biggest plus inside is the seating. Like most of the recent stadium builds, it’s not massive in size, seating just 40,300. My sense is that there are likely few bad seats in the mix. Seats circle the entire field, and most of the way from pole to pole, there are five levels or sublevels. It’s also built more “up” than “out,” so it seems that there are few places where there are more than perhaps 20 rows in a section. The biggest exception was the right field upper deck, which had quite a few rows. We were in the front row in the outfield, above the left field fence, so we would had to stand and lean over the rail to see a ball on the warning track. I’m guessing that those behind us probably missed some of deep left field.
It's Texas and it was 92 degrees outside, so it was a welcome break to have the dome covering the field for the entire game. It’s covered whenever the temp gets to 85. Most of the game was pretty Three True Outcomes, so for non-fan Mrs. IT, the roof definitely made things bearable on what could have been a fairly unpleasant afternoon. When considering the difference between cold and hot, I think my preference is for a dome in hot weather. One can always add a layer of clothing, but when it’s hot at a game, it can be just plain miserable. Not so at GLF.
My son has a physical limitation, so accessibility issues are important to me. He wasn’t with us on this trip, so I wasn’t looking for handicap parking, but I didn’t see handicap parking on the side we entered. There was more space on the other side, however, so perhaps it’s there, but that would have meant more walking once we got inside the park. As for accessibility inside, the concourses were wide, perhaps as wide as I've experienced anywhere, and a good number of the sections had wheelchair seating at the back. That is another bonus to the “up” rather than “out” format – at many stadiums, lower-bowl wheelchair seating is at the back of sections, which puts them very distant from the field. In eyeballing, I’m guessing that a wheelchair user would be closer to the field at GLF than at most other parks.
But as for ambience, not so much. Remember the classic stadium look when Jim Morris joins the Rays in “The Rookie”? Not here. That was across the street at The Ballpark in Arlington. Whereas Target Field has the Kasota Gold limestone, the design motif at GLF could best be described as “Early 21st Century Garage Floor Epoxy.” No stately looking beams that remind a person of the grand old sites.
In a walk around the concourse, the most unique characteristic is being able to look directly into the back of the booth for Ranger PA legend Chuck Morgan, now in his 44th year at the mic. I assume one can watch him at work during the game. Though Morgan is a legend, the sound system didn’t do him justice. Likely it was because of the airplane-hangar effect one often gets with a dome, but the acoustics were lousy.
With such bad sound, maybe it didn’t matter much that there wasn’t much between-inning entertainment. There was the Dot Race (won by Red). A girl raced in to steal third base in less than 30 seconds, winning Chick-Fil-A for her row. And there was…, well, not much else. Plenty of crowd shots on the Jumbotron, but no Kiss Cam, no Flex Off, no dance contests, no trivia, no nothing. I guess the plus was also that there was no “Everybody Clap Your Hands.” Clap-clap-clap-clap, ad nauseum.
Oh, another win was that there were two Jumbotron screens, so everyone can see one. Their content was pretty routine and didn’t evolve much during the game.
Also over the p.a., it was Sunday, so they sang the extra song during the Seventh-Inning Stretch. Folks generally stood attentively. Then most of them sat down for “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” A little energy returned when the country instrumental started after that. I guess, if you’re going to play (canned music) in Texas, you gotta have a fiddle in the can.
The team store had the basic stuff. Perhaps the highlight was knowing that for $400, I could have bought a framed, autographed picture of Nolan Ryan beating the snot out of Robin Ventura.
Speaking of Ryan, though the Rangers don’t come to mind as the most tradition-rich team, there wasn’t much to celebrate their history, particularly noteworthy in that they are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the move from Washington to Texas in 1972. On the side we entered, there was a Nolan Ryan statue. Inside there were a few other things noting him, though not much of it in the big scheme of things. At a display behind Morgan's booth, there was some Pudge, Beltre and Palmeiro memoribilia, but I didn’t see much of anything else. The retired numbers weren’t particularly noticeable -- certainly not as prominent as at Target Field.
As mentioned above, this was the end of a week of barbecue (including brisket and turkey for lunch), so food wasn’t high on the priority list for me today. From what I saw, that’s probably a good thing. I saw very little food being eaten in our section. When we got to our seats, the folks next to us finishing off a small helping of what looked like some sorry pulled pork nachos. Later in the game, they returned with mini-helmets of ice cream, where “mini” also described the serving size. There wasn’t a single food vendor that came to our section – in fact, I don’t remember seeing any food vendors walking through the stands. In walking around, I don't remember many booths with unusual or local food. I don’t drink, but for those who do, it’s hard to imagine there being much in the craft beer world, given the lack of food options.
So, as I said, largely underwhelming. Go, if you want to check Globe Life Field off your list, but I’m not seeing GLF being held in high esteem among the best stadiums to visit. Frankly, I felt like it was a step down from The Ballpark in Arlington/Ameriquest Field/Rangers Ballpark in Arlington/Globe Life Park in Arlington/Choctaw Field.
Oakland and Tampa Bay, how soon can you get me a new destination?