The City Council of Arlington, Texas, approved a plan last month to contribute half the $1 billion cost of a new, air-conditioned baseball stadium for the Texas Rangers. If all goes to plan, it will be the team’s third stadium since it relocated from Washington in the early 1970s. Taken together with other recent deals, it sure looks as though American cities are on the verge of another stadium building boom. The bad news for critics of publicly financed stadiums-and there are many of them-is that the outgoing cohort of Major League Baseball stadiums didn’t last very long. Of the 17 ballparks that opened between 1960 and 1982, only four are still in use. Among those that have already closed, the average lifespan was 31 years.
Yes, the Braves considered putting a retractable roof on their new stadium. “I think it was a relatively brief conversation,” Derek Schiller, the team’s president of business, recalled. After rejecting a roof for reasons of cost and baseball tradition, the Braves asked the architects of SunTrust Park for a design that “would have as many of our seats covered as possible, outside of having a roof,” Schiller said. One result of that directive is easily noticed at the stadium construction site in Cobb County these days: The steel framework for a wide canopy hangs above the upper deck, protruding as much as 60 feet over what eventually will be rows of seats. Whether protection from sun and rain will make many fans want to sit near the top of the ballpark remains to be seen. But the 108,000-square-foot canopy will provide the option, as well as an architectural element.
The final steel beam was lifted by crane Monday to the top of SunTrust Park as Braves executives, dignitaries and media members watched from what will become the playing field of the new Cobb County stadium. The 33-foot-long, 1,422-pound beam was bolted into position 155 feet above field level, completing a “topping-out” ceremony that Braves chairman and CEO Terry McGuirk called a “major milestone” in the building of the ballpark. In keeping with construction-industry tradition, the final beam had a flag and a tree attached to it — in this case, an American flag and an ash tree.
With a month to go before the first pitch, Fort Bragg’s Major League ballpark is nearing completion. In the last few weeks, crews have nearly finished bleachers that will hold most of the 12,500 fans set to attend the July 3 game between the Atlanta Braves and Miami Marlins. The warning track is all but done, and fencing around the field and dugouts is being installed. On Thursday, crews had begun working on the broadcast booth, where ESPN will nationally televise the game as part of its “Sunday Night Baseball” broadcast. Next week, crews will install foul poles, backstop netting and begin work on the “tent city” that will form operational headquarters and clubhouses for the game.
If voters agree to pay for half of a $1 billion stadium, the Texas Rangers will stick around Arlington long enough to celebrate the team’s 80th anniversary. City leaders and Rangers officials formally announced Friday afternoon their plans to extend the Rangers’ stay by building a retractable-roof stadium adjacent to the existing one. The city and team would share the cost evenly, with the Rangers responsible for overruns.The stadium is expected to open no later than the 2021 season, nearly three years before the team’s contract to play at Globe Life Park expires. The team, which moved from Washington to Arlington in 1972, would be committed to the city through the 2053 season.
For decades, the phrase “beautiful Wrigley Field” didn’t fit the ballpark’s exterior, which was covered in gray concrete panels that could have been lifted from a 1960s parking garage. The ballpark only became beautiful when fans entered the seating bowl and the emerald green field and ivy-covered outfield walls burst on them, like Eden redux. But when the Cub faithful return to their bittersweet shrine for Monday’s opening night, they will witness something new — or, rather, something old: a Wrigley Field whose exterior is being restored to the way it looked in the 1930s, complete with ornamental grill work topped by elegant sunburst patterns.