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The new stadium, as shown here during this TCU game, is enormous — and good for surmounting your daily 10,000 steps — but still kind of hard to get into once play has already started, which is absurd. PHOTO BY JOHN ANDREW WILLIS

Texas Rangers games are impossible to watch. I don’t mean trying to find whatever Bally Sports is on my Roku. I was just settling into remembering how to get to Fox Sports Southwest, so that ain’t happening. I recently tried to attend an affair between the Rangers and the Athletics of Oakland, an “in-person” event as it’s known in the 2020s, and it was tough.

Globe Life Park is a bit like Nebraska Furniture Mart. It’s a huge, air-conditioned building, a relief from three-digit Texas heat, but by the time you lean into one of their seating areas, you question if the journey was worth the destination.

Due to aforementioned heat and having a 5-month-old, my wife and I have begrudgingly become Tarrant County’s first and only millennial mall walkers. We needed a new venue to get some stroller steps in without overheating and thusly endeavored to take in some climate-controlled baseball.

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I really wanted this to work. I have fond childhood memories of sprinting up and down the concrete ramps at the Ballpark. We ran around the nosebleed sections unattended while my dad drank Coors Originals. At the very top of those 400 sections, you could almost always catch an evening breeze — no roof required. Those were the days. Were the Rangers any good? Doubtful. Did we have a good time at the ballpark? Yes.

As dumb as it was on the surface to abandon the now “old” ballpark for Globe Life Field, I was willing to go along with the concept. People will pay more to be in an air-conditioned stadium when it’s hotter than the devil’s sauna outside. I could see myself as one of them. Conceptually, I very much want to enjoy a trip to Arlington. I get excited at the potential of digging the Loews hotel bar and Texas Live along with a Rangers game. I’m doing my best to be a team player here. I will gladly regurgitate convention and visitor bureau propaganda if I have a good time.

Because a 7:05 start doesn’t jibe with an infant’s bedtime, my wife and I would pick an afternoon game to attend. We settled on the A’s on a Thursday, and off we went. By that, I mean, at the 1:05 first pitch, the baby was fast asleep in her crib, and we weren’t gonna mess with naptime to hurry to the stadium.

It was the middle of the 5th by the time we parked and walked to the stadium, on the north side near Texas Live. We hadn’t yet bought tickets, and I asked my wife if she’d rather just track our steps in the entertainment area outside the stadium instead. I was sternly and understandably informed we’d come this far — we’re gonna go to the damn game.

I asked a security guy running the north entrance if we still needed tickets at this point in the game, and an affirmative grunt was returned. I asked if we should purchase them from the box office in front of us, but of course not. Why make it that easy? Only the southeast box office was still selling tickets.

Not loving the idea of walking around half the perimeter of Death Star Lite in the heat that we came here to escape, I checked StubHub for the $6 tickets I’d seen earlier. They’d ceased selling them online. OK, fine. Whatever.

We headed east for the still open box office. As we rounded the corner, we met a steep hill with four sets of stairs. As fun as carrying an occupied stroller up flights of stairs is, I was hoping for a ramp. No such luck.

Eventually, we made it to a box office with a few open windows. After walking up to one and promptly being redirected to another, we found someone willing to take our money and get us into the game. In the era of contactless payment and cryptocurrency, I’ve grown unaccustomed to pleading to pay for things. The volume setting on these ticket kiosks is between Pantera and DEFCON 3. This is especially quaint when someone next to you is also conversing about specifically which seats they also are going to buy and never sit in.

$18.48 later, and we had our golden tickets. Unfortunately, it wasn’t Willy Wonka working the east entrance. In what would be best described as an Abbott and Costello bit, two security personnel were telling my wife and me precisely opposite things as we attempted to navigate ourselves and stroller with baby into the game. Once the employees were finished arguing with each other in front of us, the security lady kindly informed my wife she wasn’t feeding our baby enough. Fortunately, no charge for the unsolicited parenting advice.

By this point, it was probably the 7th inning, but it was hard to care after the hoops we jumped though to enter. We tried to settle into the Karbach Sky Porch after buying a $14 beer, but the PA announcer and walk–up music were so loud from a speaker behind us that — to maintain our sanity and our baby’s hearing — we had to move sections. Evidently, the speakers had been adjusted to the roar of a crowd that never materialized.

When owner Ray Davis fired Jon Daniels and Chris Woodward in mid-August, he admitted the team wasn’t very good. He predicted they would get in better with fans chiefly by winning more games. I think my daughter will be finishing med school when that happens. At the time of this writing, the Rangers were playing their last game of the season, against the Yankees, and the crowd was decent — not because the Rangers are worth watching randomly but because Yankee outfielder Aaron Judge was chasing homerun history and his legit MLB ball club was headed into the playoffs. The Rangers would finish second to last in the AL West. Take that, Oakland. #lastplaceA’s

This off-season, Davis should invest in making attending games not suck. The stadium is admittedly shiny and new, but it feels more like a convention center than a ballpark. The ownership probably can’t lobby for another new stadium for at least, like, eight years, but Davis and company should invest in hospitable employees. Knocking a few bucks off beers and hot dogs wouldn’t hurt, either.

Tarrant County has a number of welcoming entertainment venues. The Bass brothers hired Disney to help with the customer experience at Sundance Square, and for years, it was awesome. TCU hired the same company a few years back to make attending football games great again, and it shows. You may have watched Gary Patterson’s defense constantly blow coverages in recent years, but at least you were greeted and sent away with a smile. TCU and Sonny Dykes are earning substantial favor with fans by winning all their games this year, and Coach Dykes played baseball at Texas Tech. Maybe he could teach the Rangers a thing or two about winning and packing a house.

The Rangers did find the win column against Oakland, and we got our 10,000 steps in. The new stadium is all about dollars and a little light on the sense. Were it simply a matter of a professional baseball facility, it wouldn’t have been built. They already had a great one. Davis and the Rangers are gonna have to step up their game if they want any more of this family’s money.

 

This column reflects the opinions of the author and not the Fort Worth Weekly. To submit a column, please email Editor Anthony Mariani at Anthony@FWWeekly.com. Columns will be gently edited for factuality, clarity, and concision.

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