If you had the Texas Rangers in the “Who will be the next team that got a new stadium in the ’90s to be rumored to be looking for a new one barely 20 years later after the Atlanta Braves?” pool, congratulations, for you are a winnah!
The Rangers, who began the season in miserable shape, have turned in a remarkable second half of the season, running their way up the standings and currently sitting 1.5 games ahead of the Houston Astros in first place of the American League West. And yet despite the storybook season, the Rangers are pulling terrible attendance numbers…
The attendance problems are likely to contribute to speculation that, perhaps, the time is ripe to push for a Rangers relocation to downtown Dallas. According to the Star-Telegram, Dallas city officials have denied that they are trying to woo the Rangers. However, the team has said they’d really love a stadium with a retractable roof. That sounds a bit like an invitation to suitors.
If that sounds overly speculative even for sportswriters on a slow day, you’ll get little argument from the evidence: Let’s see, there’s an article from early 2014 that notes the Rangers “remain one of the few teams located in a searing summer climate without a roof,” then one from a little later in 2014 that says “rumors have swirled that the club might be looking to move to Dallas and build a stadium with a retractable roof,” and oh look, here’s one from D Magazine (same source as yesterday’s story) way back in 2011 that said the Rangers’ stadium in Arlington is ugly and one in Dallas would be maybe less so (and roofed) and … anything with anybody from the Rangers actually saying for attribution that they want a new stadium? Anyone? No?
What’s going on here is twofold: First off, the Rangers’ lease expires in 2024, so everyone is speculating on what will happen then, even though the team’s owners would be insane to leave the nation’s fifth-largest TV market for, well, anywhere. Second, and more important, is that even more than Atlanta, where Cobb County decided to throw $300 million at the Braves to steal them away from the big bad inner city, the Dallas-Ft. Worth metro area is made up of a bunch of different localities that can fight over a team. And that means lots of people spreading rumors, whether it’s local officials or writers for single-lettered magazines or whatever. And some of these rumors may even turn out to be true — again, with lots of different elected bodies on the prowl, if your lease is up it’s a great way to get a bidding war going, and that floats your boat.
Yesterday’s D Magazine story goes on to give a whole bunch of reasons why a new stadium in Dallas would be awesomer than an old new stadium in Arlington (“The young people heading back to Uptown and thinking about which patio to hit for happy hour would see the stadium looming just a hop away”!), without ever considering that the big difference is you don’t have to build a stadium in Arlington, because it’s already there. For a billion dollars or whatever a stadium is going to go for in 2024, you could pay people to stand on streetcorners (or whatever they have in Dallas — traffic medians?) and hand out maps to downtown Dallas and coupons for free drinks, or whatever the kids of tomorrow will be into.
Most important to note: Whatever you think of the stadium in Arlington, the reason why it’s being considered for replacement rather than the Colorado Rockies‘ stadium or the Baltimore Orioles‘ or the Cleveland Indians‘ has nothing to do with whether it’s a good place to see a ballgame, or even the local weather. It’s about how easy it might be to get somebody else nearby to consider building a new one. Same as it ever was.