Great Got Even Better

April_Speaking_of_Sports
After more than two decades, Globe Life Park remains one of baseball’s treasures. (Arlington Today photo)

It is truly amazing how quickly

22 years can fly by. Twenty two years ago this month we had a Grand Opening in Arlington. The building has changed names a few times, but it still stands there majestically. Back then we knew it as The Ballpark in Arlington; now it is Globe Life Park in Arlington, and what a Life this place has had.

I remember walking around it in April of 1994 and seeing those saplings all staked up in the median on Nolan Ryan Expressway. I knew then that I would see those trees grow up; I just didn’t know it would happen overnight. For my money, Globe Life is still one of the five best ballparks in all of baseball. It is beautiful, distinctive and functional. Even though it was built in an era when, seemingly, everyone was building a new park, this place stands out. When you glance up at a highlight show on television you immediately know which park it is. The only thing it lacks is a roof, but that is a column for a different day.

When you go to the games this year you will notice some changes, big changes. They have added a video board in left field. It actually sits high atop the office building in left center and it will give the fans who sit in the home run porch access to all that the video board provides – which is a lot.

Chuck Morgan is the voice of Globe Life Park in Arlington, but he is also the director of Ballpark entertainment and production. During spring training Chuck and his crew tape funny bits with the players that will air between innings throughout the season. Also, in this age of instant replay, fans in right field could not see how wrong (or in some cases right) the call on the field was. With a new video board 94 feet long and 34 feet high, no fan will miss a thing.

Another new addition

is an LED lighting system. Globe Life Park will be one of just four stadiums in baseball to have added this enhancement. The LED system will increase uniformity of lighting. It will make it easier for the fans, the TV cameras and most importantly the players to see the ball. They actually had a similar system installed in Seattle last season – not only did the lights brighten the game, but suffice to say that now Chuck Morgan has a new toy.

These lights can be programmed to become a light show after home runs or any other significant moment in the game. Also, unlike the previous lights, they do not need to warm up; they come on immediately. Never again will fans walk out of a fireworks show in low light.

Finally, there will be protective netting that extends all the way to the end of the dugouts. This somewhat controversial addition might be the most important of them all.

Fans who sit in those seats

might feel like there is now a barrier between them and the game. But, remember: the most expensive seats in the house, the ones right behind home plate, have had the same barrier forever. This barrier is designed to protect the fans. I was in the photo well right next to the dugout in Detroit last year when a fan had to be removed on a stretcher after being hit with a bat. The game stopped for nearly a half an hour as the medical people attended to the fan. The players stood on the field and watched, and it had an affect on the game.

The events in the stands cast a pall over the rest of the game as players worried about the injured fan. These are human beings playing the game, and every one of them felt compassion and concern for the injured fan.

The Rangers ownership group has stepped up every off-season since they have owned the team to make improvements. From 2012, when they re-did the Center Field Concourse, including my home away from the home in the summers, The Captain Morgan Club. To last year when they converted the old TGI Fridays into an all-you-can-eat lounge. This group has spent millions of dollars every off-season to ensure that this ballpark remains one of the best in baseball.

Just like it was 22 years ago.