ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) – Construction began earlier this week on the reconfiguration.
The plans call for a new club behind the batter’s eye area atop Greene’s Hill in straightaway center field and a concession area in the plaza that previously housed the Center Field Sports Park kids area.
A new restaurant and sports bar will open in the space previously occupied by KRLD-AM. The area will also feature a new and improved ‘Kids Zone’ similar to the previous sports park, but one that will be in an air-conditioned environment.
Two major changes that all fans inside the stadium will immediately notice will be the removal of bleacher seats in the outfield, and the repositioning of the visitors bullpen. The benches moved from Arlington Stadium are being replaced by actual chairs to fit in the new bullpen without changing the dimensions of the outfield. The move will reduce capacity in the area by roughly 1,000 seats.
Plans to remodel the bullpen were already in place before an infamous gaffe by the St. Louis Cardinals during Game 5 of the 2011 World Series when Manager Tony LaRussa tried to call up a relief pitcher. He later blamed crowd noise and not being able to see the bullpen as the reason for the confusion.
Rob Matwick, Executive Vice President for Ballpark Operations, says the team and the Texas Rangers Foundation are looking into possibly selling the old bleachers to fans, but no decision has been made at this point.
The changes will also give fans in left field a clear path to Vandergriff Plaza, opening up the concourse around the lower level. The
Rangers Baseball Express, which purchased the team in August of 2010, began the initial planning of the renovations to the plaza during the 2010 season.
Vandergriff Plaza, named for former Arlington mayor and Rangers broadcaster Tom Vandergriff, has been part of the Ballpark’s landscape since the stadium opened in 1994. A statue of Vandergriff greets fans entering the stadium from the center field gate. A statue of Nolan Ryan as a player is in the center of the plaza, and will remain in the center of the new concession area. The concession area will also feature video boards for fans to watch the action from the field while behind the Batter’s Eye Club.
The Rangers will enter into their 19th season at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington in 2012. Matwick says the team has been looking at ways to upgrade the stadium, and will continue with upgrades as new stadiums come along, including neighboring Cowboys Stadium.
The new renovations are scheduled to be completed by Opening Day 2012 on April 6.