Friday morning I drove back up to Arlington, which is just west of Dallas and were Ranger Ballpark is located. I stayed at the Knights Inn next to Six Flags since it was cheap and boasted a free shuttle to and from the game. Many of the area hotels run this service, saving fans the cost of parking ($12). I even ran into some locals who take advantage of the free shuttles, by parking at the hotels instead of the lots around the ballpark. We were dropped off at the tourism office just across from the stadium and told the shuttle would pick us up after the fireworks at the same location. They also gave us the hotel card in case we wanted to be picked up earlier. Pretty nice service in my opinion!
I hopped out of the van and hurried toward the park, eager to do a quick walk around and get inside the park. Rangers Ballpark is massive and looks rather more like a fortress than a baseball stadium. It’s a large square and completely enclosed, though it lacks a dome. I read that this is the hottest ballpark to catch a game in (and can vouch its very warm), so make sure you stay hydrated- with water, not beer ;)! All four corners of the park have “towers” flanking them and are the main gates to the park and the outside façade stays consistent around the entire ballpark. The arched brick openings (windows by the team offices) are a nod to old Comiskey Park, but some Texas flair is added in with the star, longhorn skull, and state history scenes adorning the walls. Though the gates for the most park look the same, fans should visit the home plate entrance to see the sculpture dedicated to Shannon Stone, the fan who fell tragically to his death last year. It is a touching tribute and an emotional reminder of the bond formed between a father and son attending a ballgame. Also from this side of the park you can see the green stands just peeking over the brick walls, solidifying that this is in fact a baseball venue. Across the parking to your right is Cowboys Stadium- man is that place impressive looking! One of the few NFL stadiums I really want to visit (I’m definitely more of a college football fan- Go Bucks!). I purchased my tickets from the ticket office, only $9 to see the defending AL champs- I’ll take it!
Entering through the First Base Gate, I walked past through a “tunnel” of ramps into the main concourse. Green steel is woven throughout the concourse with plenty of concessions and a zillion booths with Texas team gear to purchase. I hurried by to the field to catch the end of the Tigers batting practice. This happened to be the same match-up I saw when I visited Comerica in April, and I was interested to see the Tigers fresh off a split with the Yankees. As I walked around the field level seats admiring the park, I started to feel like I was melting. Humidity is a horrible thing for us ladies. We have to worry about hair and makeup, not to mention I was starting to sweat through my clothes. Gray and blue were a bad choice. For as much of a mess I was becoming, looking around, the ballpark couldn’t be more beautiful. I had heard it was a hodge podge of former classic parks, but though you can see the inspiration, it comes together nicely and not at all like a cheap knock off. The enclosed outfield has the white steel frieze similar to Yankee Stadium and that pattern goes around the top of the park as well, only in green. The right field bleachers are a separate structure from the rest of the stands and atop them is a giant scoreboard. Texas pride radiates throughout the park and there is an intimate, homey vibe that mixes in. The Rangers were celebrating their 40th anniversary this weekend, so there were banners flying and the grass behind home plate was painted up for the event. I made sure to catch Miguel Cabrera’s batting practice (I’m a diligent fantasy manager you know) and was satisfied with his effort. I’m not a fan of any team from Michigan, but I definitely wanted to see him snag my team a few points!
After his at bat, I couldn’t stand the sun, so moved back into the concourse to grab some water and dry, I mean cool off. Despite all the large arches in the outside façade, the main concourse stayed mostly shaded as I walked towards the outfield. To get to the outfield concourse you pass through a small (comparatively speaking) concrete hallway with a couple of steps before turning out towards the field. I passed the Captain Morgan Club in left center field, and thought that would be a nice air conditioned alternative if you didn’t mind watching the game on TV. It has a full sit down restaurant and is open to all fans. Across from the club is a large patio that hits the away team bullpen and a bar next to the batters eye. There were already fans starting to claim the seats and tables near center field- a great option for upper deck ticket holders who don’t want to stand at this level. To the left and behind the batters eye is the Vandergriff Plaza, which houses plenty of concession stands and bars, a patio with tables for fans to eat at, and a large TV so no one misses a play! In the middle of the plaza is a large statue of Nolan Ryan, a former Ranger and the current owner. There is also the Batters Eye Club, but that is for ticketed fans only to enjoy. I almost missed it, but nicely tucked away from the park is the kid’s zone which sits underneath the terraced outfield walls. The game was getting ready to start, so I made my way to the standing room behind the right field bleachers for the anthem and stayed to watch the Rangers first at bat. Once the Tigers were up, I decided to go up to the 300 level and see what the view was like from my seat. I passed the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame, but unfortunately it was hosting a private event, so I was unable to go in. What I did get to see was the Boomstick stand just a little further down serve up some meat monstrosities! It was like two feet of hotdog and a coke for $37. That is too much hotdog even for me (junk food glutton)!
I passed a ramp and opted for a ride up the escalator to the 300 level and noticed the 200 level was open to all fans (made a note to check on my way down). The rooftop of the lower levels made up the 300 level concourse and it wrapped around to either end of the outfield. Walking around I could see why they chose to enclose the park- the view sucks. I circled back to my section and made my way up to my seat in right field. The view of the game action wasn’t too bad, except most of right field was obstructed by the overhang. Well now I know why the seats are so cheap! While I was up here I saw Josh Hamilton hit a home run, which was really exciting. I don’t think you can have a heart and not root for this guy- he’s a fantastic comeback story. The Chick-fil-a cow in left field’s H lit up for the hit. The cow helps keep track of strike outs and errors as well- it’s a clever ad. After a few innings and dinner (hotdog- normal sized and fries value meal) I headed back down stopping at the 200 level to explore.
The 200 level looks a bit odd with its white tile and fancy awnings to the suites. It reminded me of an ice cream parlor. There are a few of sit down bars and food options on this level with outdoor and indoor seating, providing the option of keeping cool while still watching the game. I didn’t stay at this level for long since the outdoor seating was full and I wanted to catch more of the game, which was starting to get interesting. The Rangers jumped out to an early lead, but by the time I made it to the standing room in center field, the Tigers were closing in. Austin Jackson snuck one by Nelson Cruz and ended up with an inside-the-park home fun (my first time seeing this) and Prince Fielder knocked one out as well. As much as I dislike the Tigers, the inside-park-home run was one of the coolest things I’ve seen live! I stayed behind Detroit’s bullpen until the bottom of the 8th, catching another group singing of “Deep in the Heart of Texas” and a mascot race that was very similar to the one at Nationals Park (awesome). As the Tigers took the lead, I headed to the standing room behind the 100 level seats to see how the view was and to get a spot for the post-game fireworks.
The standing room behind the field level seats is a bit odd compared to other ballparks. You have to go up a flight of steps from the main concourse to a “pit stop” level. It has a few picnic tables around the outside, but you can’t see the field well from them. I stood as near to home plate as I could, since there were suites until the final out. The post-game fireworks were actually really disappointing compared to shows I’ve seen at other ballparks (Dodgers, Tribe, ChiSox). Afterwards I headed back to the shuttle pick up stop and got on the third time it came around. The wait is the only downside to riding the shuttle, but it was worth it. For my trip to Rangers Ballpark in Arlington I spent $69 on my hotel, $9 on my ticket, $18 on food ($6.50 on value meal, $5.50 on pop, and $6 earlier for lunch). Adding in my trip to Houston I spent $526- not bad for two ballparks with a flight, hotels, and renting a car. It always helps to stay with a friend, so hopefully someone moves to Dallas before I visit again! Rangers Ballpark was a lot of fun though and the fans were fantastic as well. If the Yankees can’t win it, I’d love to see the Rangers in their place. They just need to be careful- they’re one World Series loss away from being the Buffalo Bills.