Texas Rangers exec talks about Globe Life Field coming to life

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Globe Life Field, the Texas Rangers’ new $1.2 billion stadium, is starting to see some activity. Players are working out at the venue and about one-third of the front-office staff gathered there over the past week, according to Rob Matwick, the team’s executive vice president of business operations.

In the newest installment of VenuesNow Digital Sessions, Matwick discussed the situation with the new ballpark and potential adjustments post-COVID-19 at the 40,500-seat facility.

The state of Texas classified construction as essential work, since the stay-at-home orders were put in place in March, and other restrictions have been lifted, resulting in the Rangers slowly ramping their operation back up in Arlington.

“Last week, we started batting practice on the field with a couple guys at a time,” Matwick said. “They’re allowed now to come in — if they live in the area — and use the weight room. They were hitting in the cages and now they’ve asked to go out on the field, which is great because they’re starting to get used to the home field. It’s giving us an opportunity also to get out there, set up the equipment and make sure everything is where the players need it. Turn all the lights on and make sure everything is aimed correctly.”

 

To provide a few soft openings to prepare for baseball season, the Rangers are in talks with local and state education officials to book some high school graduations in early June. Other sports and entertainment venues in Dallas-Fort Worth are part of the effort as well.

Globe Life Field’s  retractable roof provides the option for an open-air environment, depending on the weather, and officials are still determining the protocols, but social distancing will be enforced and attendees will most likely be asked to wear masks, Matwick said.

“It’s a different process than any of us are used to, but we’re working through the guidelines,” he said. “We’ll start meeting with schools to discuss what their expectations are and hopefully by the beginning of June we can provide this opportunity for the students, which is most important.”

Chris Stapleton’s All-American Roadshow, originally booked to christen Globe Life Field in mid-March, was rescheduled for Nov. 21. The date was close to a sellout, with a crowd of 40,000 expected, including 11,000 seats on the field. The seating map will most likely be tweaked now in light of the virus at a building designed as much for concerts as baseball.

“The manifest itself remains the same, but now we’re having to go through the exercise of how we could use the same sections and rows, but space the seats or do we just try to move seats for more room between them,” Matwick said.


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“It hasn’t changed any of our thinking strategically. We still want to pursue as many opportunities as we can around our baseball schedule. But it definitely will impact the execution, in terms of how assertive we’ll be in working with partners to bring events into the building, how we we clean it. That’s on everybody’s mind.”

Matwick also discussed how food and retail concessions could change operationally at the ballpark, upgrades to gate entrances and communications with Rangers season-ticket holders and premium-seat patrons on the prospect of a 2020 season. Texas Live!, the entertainment district, next to Globe Life Field, is closed for now, but as it re-opens, the Live! by Loews Hotel that’s part of the complex could be used to house Rangers players as part of a mini-training camp before the season begins, Matwick said.

“The hope is to get on the field by July,” he said. “As you would expect, these days we don’t know if that’s with or without fans. Based on what we know today, it’s likely we would start without fans and maybe at some point, as we get deeper into the year and conditions improve … we could welcome some fans into the building. We’re looking at all the possibilities on a local level, the team level. Commissioner (Rob) Manfred and the players association have got to sit down and work through the details that players and staff are comfortable with. It was important last week that the industry reached an agreement with the umpires. Every day, we’re trying to figure out a way to get things up and running.”