The Texas Rangers may have traded a real grass field for air-conditioning

The art of writing an intro to a piece of journalism — called a “lede” because journalists are weird — is an interesting one, and I’m always impressed when someone can come up with something like this:

Science has bred a chicken to look like a dinosaur and is actively working on humanless home pizza delivery – and a flying taxi

…even, or maybe especially, when the article itself is about something as prosaic as the Texas Rangers‘ new taxpayer-funded stadium maybe using artificial turf.

Yes, that’s right: A major-league baseball team is actually tearing down its reasonably well-regarded 20-something-year-old stadium so it can build a new one with air-conditioning, but this may require installing fake grass, even though all but two MLB teams have done away with the stuff in recent years because everybody hates it, from fans to players who have to deal with its broiling heat and abuse on their bodies. The problem, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, has something to do with the field being too deep, or too far from the retractable roof, or something:

The Rangers said that right now they don’t know when they will know/announce the surface for the new stadium, which is scheduled to open in 2020…

“Fifty feet below grade is not a concern itself. It’s about how the stadium is designed to let light in,” said Texas A&M associate professor Ben Wherley, whose expertise is in turfgrass in the school’s department of soil and crop sciences. “My assumption is they will try to get grass in there if at all possible.”

This is really something they should have thought of while designing the stadium, you know? Though given the Escheresque renderings the Rangers have released so far, maybe they were planning on having sunlight hit the field from below, who can say?

9 comments on “The Texas Rangers may have traded a real grass field for air-conditioning

  1. It’s in the story but you left out that there’s widespread skepticism that this has anything to do with nexessity and sun issues and everything to do with more easily keeping the venue open year-round for other events to make the owners more money. Which might make some sense if not for the fact that this is being built next to one of the busiest sports facilities of its kind, AT&T Stadium. There’s not a single event, other than y’know, baseball, that would be a better experience in a baseball stadium than a football stadium.

    • Yeah, that was omitted because it seemed silly speculation. Lots of baseball stadiums with grass are used for concerts and such in the summers.

    • As a Metroplex resident though, I can assure you that if the Rangers even try to put 10% thought into making it concert-friendly, they can be highly competitive against Jerry’s Deathstar next year.

      Cowboys Stadium is absolutely terrible for concert acoustics, even compared to other closed stadiums. It’s so bad I know several people who will not attend music events there because you literally cannot tell what song is being performed in large swaths of the venue.

      So, if the Rangers can be cost effective for promoters for a concert that’s going to draw around 30k max, they may also be able to pick up ancillary ticket buyers if the concert experience is better (which is a low bar to clear, given Jerry’s lack of foresight in acoustic design when he built his palace).

      • I can attest to that as well. The megalomaniac scoreboard in the middle of the stadium stands like a box inside a box creating echos where sound just reverberates like a canyon inside a canyon inside a canyon, underwarter.

  2. Wrigley Field now hosts upwards of 10 concerts a year on the grass every summer/early Fall

    • And it’s darn near put Alpine Valley out of business. No dates last year. 4 dates so far scheduled for this year. Rock’n Roll! (I’m making air guitar motions right now.)

  3. It’s not only “sunlight” though. The lack of real sunlight can be addressed through artificial lighting (you’ve seen the “lighting” carts at some facilities?).

    One of the difficulties in getting grass to grow indoors is maintaining airflow across the grass in an enclosed facility… without that the grass won’t grow properly. It’s something the stadium operator is looking into in Toronto, and is one of the reasons they couldn’t grow grass properly in the Astrodome (which, some may remember, they originally tried to do). The ‘circular’ seating bowl craze of the late 60’s early 70’s also impacted ground level airflow even in open stadia. Turf management (and MLB finance) of the day was much less involved than it is today, but this still impacted the playing surface in those facilities.

    • At the second Busch Stadium (the round one), in it’s non astroturf years, the right field grass was always a problem. Supposedly it had to do with shadows, and being slightly below grade. (And it being 120 degrees in the summer.)

  4. So around 2040-2045 the Rangers will demand yet another new stadium so they can “go back to natural grass”.

    It’s never going to stop is it? :(