Texas Rangers execs have announced that when their new taxpayer-subsidized stadium opens next year, their 25-year-old prior taxpayer-subsized stadium will be converted to a football stadium for an XFL franchise, reports Forbes — notwithstanding that this was already announced by the XFL last December. But Rangers vice president of business operations Rob Matwick did at least provide a couple more details of how the retrofitting would go:
“It will require us at the end of the season to convert from a baseball configuration to a football configuration.”
“Probably,” Matwick said, “because we’re going to have a state-of-the-art baseball facility across the street.”
Matwick also said the Rangers were engaged in “some preliminary talks” about hosting soccer and high school football, according to Forbes columnist Barry Bloom.
Okay, let’s start with a look at how this will likely work in terms of geometry. Here’s a composite of Google Maps images of the Rangers’ old stadium and a football field, sized to the same scale:
That’s clearly going to require the demolition of some seats in center field, which shouldn’t be a huge undertaking. It would leave fans with pretty terrible sightlines, though — the 50-yard-line seats would be massively far from the field — plus it would be very difficult to fit in a soccer pitch, which needs to be 30% wider than an NFL field. So it would be far more likely to see a configuration like this:
That will require a fair bit more demolition, especially to fit soccer, but at least you’d have decent seats along one side, and I suppose could even add temporary bleachers on the other side to provide more seats.
Anyway, all this would clearly be totally worth it for the Rangers and Arlington to land a permanent … XFL franchise, did you say? The league that only lasted ten games in its first iteration (prompting creator Vince McMahon to call it a “colossal failure”), and which is slated to try again next year, on the heels of another attempt at an NFL alternative that only made it through eight games? This is truly a great idea, and certainly not a pathetic attempt to pretend that having two stadiums designed for baseball sitting right next to each other isn’t a tragic commentary on American subsidy-driven capitalism.
UPDATE: A commenter (thanks, Joe!) shared the schematic below that the Rangers previously issued, which is similar to my bottom image only with the field running third base to right field instead of first base to left field. It also has one corner of the end zone located in the front-row seats, and the overlap would be even worse for a soccer pitch, so clearly this is a work in progress.