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What’s in a Name? Rangers Ballpark Isn’t Sacred

Here we go again.

For the second time in its history, the Texas Rangers have sold out their ballpark’s naming rights, announcing the park will now be known as Globe Life Park in Arlington.

“You can probably guess how my Facebook feed was yesterday once the announcement was made. The most popular comment was the simply put, “I’ll still always call it Rangers Ballpark, dammit!!!”

And I just rolled my eyes, just like I did 10 years ago. Why?

Because I still remember back in 1993 when the previous ownership group headed by George W. Bush and Tom Schieffer first named the place The Ballpark in Arlington. NO ONE liked it. I remember a column in the Star-Telegram – I think it was Gil LeBreton that wrote it – comparing the ballpark to the Roman Coliseum and suggesting that whoever came up with that name should be thrown to the lions.

Then, once Tom Hicks took over and sold the rights to Ameriquest in 2004, suddenly everyone like the old name. they all celebrated when the Rangers had to take down the name three years later due to Ameriquest going under. Now, let the crying begin once more.

Now, I do have criticisms about naming rights on stadiums, but the criticism falls with the companies. I’ve never known why they think giving that much money just to slap their name on a building is a good advertising investment. If they’re willing to pay it, the clubs can go ahead and take it, but the fact that so many of these businesses have shut down afterwards seems to say it’s counterproductive. I’ve always felt that’s why Southwest Airlines didn’t buy the rights to the Dallas arena; they’re not known for making bad financial decisions.

I understood the dislike for the name “The Ballpark,” and to be honest, I was not crazy about the name “Rangers Ballpark” either. Maybe it’s just me, but slapping the team name on the stadium just says “We couldn’t think of anything else.”

Heck, I think “College Park Center” can come off as too generic a name, and I’m hoping UTA comes up with a better name down the line (I have an idea; check back with me in another year).

But so many people, for some reason these names are sacred. For so many sports fans, who hold up record books to a higher standard than The Bible, putting a company’s name on the building where they play is sacrilege. And with it comes the fear that one day, baseball uniforms will become the moving billboards that soccer jerseys and race cars are.

Therein lies the hypocrisy of many sports fans, a number of which appear to be within the Rangers’ brethren. They complain when ticket prices go up. They complain when parking rates go up. They complain when things like stadiums or uniforms have corporate tie-ins.

And yet they still expect the teams to spend spend spend and do whatever it takes to win, because it’s been assumed forever that money automatically equals championship. So what, the club’s owners are morally obligated to just throw away their own money and not expect a payout in return, just to let a bunch of other people live vicariously through their business to feel good about their own lives?

This Rangers ownership is not going to do that. Once again, this shows that Ray Davis and Bob Simpson are determined to not have the club fall into the bankruptcy it was in when they bought it back in 2010.

With a franchise that is always at risk of going back into the red in ticket sales with just one losing season, and a television deal that looks sweet but is almost certainly not guaranteed (with the Astros hating their Comcast deal and on the verge of bringing in Nolan Ryan, I’m more scared than ever FSSW may walk from the Rangers), the Rangers owners have to take every step possible.

So go ahead. Complain to the skies above about how putting a corporate name on the Texas Rangers ballpark is an affront to the baseball gods

Then tell me how those postseason games aren’t as fun anymore with the place sporting that name. They won’t be, right?

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Cowboys Should Raze the Roof Instead of Rangers Raising It

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I get a lot of criticism for claiming the Rangers aren’t appreciated in North Texas despite their recent success. And yes, if you base it on the attendance figures of the last two to three years, that criticism of my words is valid.

Like I said earlier, my beef primarily lies in television ratings and the like, but I will not deny the bottom line of winning has made a positive impact on their gate receipts.

Amazing, however that drawing that many in the last few years has done nothing to quell one of the biggest complaints about the team.

How can we praise our attendance figures and then claim that our Ballpark is hurting our chance at great attendance figures – to say nothing of the performance on the field?

I’m talking, of course, about the claim of how no one wants to go to the Ballpark because they can’t take the heat.

Despite all the good times the last few years in Arlington – and yes, these times ARE good – the complaints remain about the Rangers playing in an open-air outdoor ballpark in an area where in the summer double digit temperatures mean a cool front. There continue to be calls – mostly from the media, I will admit – for this franchise to start putting that Ray Davis and Bob Simpson money into building a roof over the Ballpark so the fans – and maybe the players – no longer have to suffer under Mother Nature’s wrath.

Does everyone really not see how ludicrous this sounds when you really think about it? Are we actually complaining that the Rangers, who play a game designed to be played on grass and dirt, actually have it be played OUTOORS??

Well, that’s because the Rangers can’t win constantly playing in the heat. It always wears them down and they are guaranteed to falter in the late months every single year. Unless you give them the comfort of playing indoors, they have no chance of going deep in October and reaching the World Series.

Except they did. Twice.

And that little bit about them not being able to pitch in the heat? The team ERA in each of the last four years: 3.93 (4th), 3.79 (5th), 3.99 (7th) and 3.62 (4th). Four straight years with a pitching staff in the top half of the American League – three of them in the top third.

Meanwhile, those same people who complain about Rangers Ballpark continue to gush and wax poetic on the Boss Hogg Bowl next door (I think it got a new name, sounds like some phone company, ah who cares) and how its enclosed roof and climate control are perfect for how all sports should be played in the 21st century.

(Yeah, can we stop calling it a retractable roof stadium yet? I’m more likely to get a date before the next time Jerry opens that roof, and I’ve already confined myself to dying alone.)

In other words, just another example of how the Cows do everything right and the Rangers CAN’T do anything right.

One problem, though. While the Rangers, with that horrible outdoor ballpark, have become one of the best teams in baseball on the field and at the gate, the Cows… well, the Cows suck, there’s no way around that.

Oh, the Cows still sell out games despite being one of the most unsuccessful teams for the past 17 years, and that has stuck in my craw for a long time. But now that I’ve thought of it more, why should it? The place may be selling out, but it’s not selling out with Cow fans.

Ask anyone who was at last Sunday’s game and they will likely mope about how many Bronco fans infested the home of “America’s Team” – just like the Bears and Steelers did last year. This actually makes a lot of sense. With five-figure seat licenses and 70 dollar parking, Jerry has made it impossible for most Cow fans to regularly come to his disguised country club. So while his teams fans are stuck watching on the screens at Hooters, visiting team fans will gladly use their saved vacation money to mark one more stadium off their tour list and see the pompous Cowboys get beat by their team.

Instead of trying to go on about why the Rangers need a roof, how about answering the question of why the COWBOYS need one?

Why does a team that plays in a region where the temperature rarely drops below 70 degrees before December and rarely below 50 before the new year have to play in enclosed climate control?

If anything, playing indoors could very well be a factor to the Cows’ failures – all that pampered comfort only produces a soft team that can’t handle the harsh elements in New York or Philadelphia come December.

Oh, sure, that theory has to be preposterous. Except that sonce the Cows last saw aSuper Bowl, 14 of the last 17 Super Bowl champions played home games outdoors. And 13 of them were in cold weather cities.

Heck, try telling a Packers fan in Green Bay that Lambeau Field needs a roof on it. They might give you a five minute head start to get out of town before the pitchfork crowd comes chasing (People in Wisconsin are nice like that).

So let’s recap: Since 2009 when JerryWorld opened, the Cows, with their luxurious, comfortable, climate controlled atmosphere, have a winning percentage 0f 50 percent, have won one playoff game and are only selling out because they don’t pull a San Antonio Spurs and deny ticket sales to anyone north of the Red River. The Rangers, meanwhile, playing outdoors in the unbearable “blast furnace” of the Texas summer heat, have four straight 90-win seasons with two trips to the World Series and have not only somehow become one of the top draws in baseball but have crowds that are actually supporting the home team.

Maybe instead Jerry should take a wrecking ball to his roof so his players – and fans in the stands – can get tougher.

But hey, maybe I’m comparing apples and oranges here in using Rangers vs. Cowboys in the indoors vs. outdoors debate. Maybe I should find an actual baseball team that plays in doors to compare the Rangers to… like the Houston Astros…

Rangers are In No-Win Situation at the Box Office

I don’t think it’s an unfair claim to say that attendance figures will plummet for next year for the Rangers if they fail to make the postseason, given their track record of having among the worst bandwagon fans in all of sports. But unfortunately, there may be other reasons there will likely be fewer at the Ballpark in 2014.

Last night, Derek Holland, Alex Rios and the Rangers kept hope alive for one more day, as Rios hit for the cycle in a 12-0 win over the Astros. But as the players on the field are trying to ward off the sad disaster the season has become, their ticket representatives may be looking at another disaster.

For it was just a few weeks ago that the front offices sent season ticket holders information on next season in addition to this year’s playoff tickets (To think the latter was once a given). This has apparently included a substantial price increase over the next year. According to at least one of my fellow die-hards, ticket prices for the Rangers will undergo a 115 percent increase in two years. As a result, I know of a couple of people already declaring they won’t renew their full plans, opting for mini-plans at best.

To be fair, you cant accuse the Rangers of not reaching out. One of said angry ticket holders got himself a meeting with a front office representative to air out his grievances, which include how the team has neglected to make seat repairs and other small improvements in the Ballpark’s upper levels. I have yet to hear how this meeting went.

As someone who has had to drop and renew season tickets frequently over the years due to various issues, I can understand the plight of those who are finding their wallets pinched by skyrocketing prices. Bit I’m also not naive to reality and don’t understand why this is happening.

It’s clear the Rangers’ ownership is dead set on one thing: This team is going to be profitable and will not see the financial disaster it endured just three years ago. Ray Davis and Bob Simpson will not let this become a franchise relegated to league control and put up for public auction again.

I remember a time when tickets were a bit more affordable. I remember when among the things i was handed at the gate regularly were vouchers for ticket discounts. Sounds like a great thing, right?

Well, that was during the Tom Hicks era. Remember what the play on the field was like back then?

Thus is the list of eternal demands a legitimate contending team must suffer from its fan base every year: Spend more than any franchise out there, don’t let any player get away in free agency and bring in every player that is a free agent from other teams as well. Do absolutely everything it takes to guarantee a championship. Oh, and keep ticket prices affordable while you’re at it.

In other words, the fans pretty much demand that their teams <em>intentionally</em> lose money each year to get them (the fans) a winning team for them to trumpet.

Other teams have had to search for other ways to bring in needed revenue. The St. Louis Cardinals just had to let a college football game take place in Busch Stadium the past weekend due to the fact that the resources in St. Louis are limited despite their recent success and most loyal fan base in the world. As a result, their field is going to be in no good condition for the playoffs thanks to the football players tearing it up.

If these fans are going to expect the Rangers to spend through the nose to not lose in the offseason again (and they’ll have to grossly overspend to get any player to want to come to Football Town), they actually have to find a way to make that money somewhere.

Yes, they’re only another year or so before that gigantic TV deal from Fox Sports Southwest kicks in. I still say it’s not a guarantee that deal’s set in stone, and I wouldn’t be surprised if FSSW uses an out clause in the deal if the Rangers are not WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS by the time it’s supposed to kick in.

So there is only one proven option for generating revenue, and it looks like no matter what they do, they rangers are going to see ticket sales drop, be it from the team not absolutely dominating on the field or gripes about costlier tickets.

You’ve got a choice, season ticket holders: Endure rising prices, or go back to a team with no chance of contention. Whichever you think is more endurable.

If the Rangers Can Take the Heat, We Can

It’s getting a bit mundane to see the Rangers play against the Astros now. Another series, another sweep.

When Adam Rosales slid home for the winning run on Wednesday, the Rangers upped their record against their new division mates to 14-2 on the year. With six wins against them in the last 12 days, the Rangers can really thank Houston for helping get them a multi-game lead in the American League West once again.

But there should be more to this whipping up on Mosquitoville than just bragging rights in the state. This should be the ultimate example of finally putting to rest that tired argument that this team should be playing indoors.

To this day, there are still those constantly griping about the Rangers playing in the open air of what was originally called The Ballpark in Arlington, forcing fans and players to endure the intense summer heat of the Lone Star State. How dare they build an outdoor stadium back in a time when indoor parks were considered the devil?

Yes, how soon we forget that in the early 90s, it was beyond frowned upon to build an indoor facility, even one with a retractable roof, spurred on by the outright ugliness and uniformity of the likes of Toronto’s SkyDome, Montreal’s Olympic Stadium and especially the stadium the Astros were currently playing in. You want a throwback to what indoor stadiums were once like? Go to Tampa’s Tropicana Field.

The Astros, meanwhile, were supposedly the ones who did it right in 2000. After 35 years of playing in the Astrodome, the Astros moved into Minute Maid Park, a facility that was supposedly done right in every way, with its retractable roof and unique design that would allow the best of both worlds. It was the park the Rangers SHOULD have built.

And what has playing in that modernized, enclosed-when-they-want-to ballpark done for the Astros?

One less trip to the World Series than the Rangers.

And at the moment, a record that’s a whopping 32 games worse than their North Texas counterparts.

Now, naturally there’s a big difference in the talent level between the two teams, made blatantly obvious by the fact that almost the entire Houston roster is barely making over the league minimum.

But the cry for years was that the climate conditions at the Ballpark would always negate the talent level. The heat would wear down the players and they could never have the stamina to perform late in the year. The jetstream into right field made it too much of a hitters park, and thus they would never have good enough pitching to consistently win.

Yet not only are the Rangers once again right there in first place for the fourth straight year, not only are they perhaps playing at their best in the middle of the “dog days,” but – gasp – they still have the 4th best ERA in the American League.

Looks like not worrying about the heat, hitting your spots and keeping the ball down CAN overcome the conditions. It just took people like Nolan Ryan and the Maddux brothers to drill that mindset into the players.

And how about the claims that no one wants to show up at the Ballpark in our insane temperatures? You know, it’s funny how many who get on my case for saying the Cowboys will always keep people away from the Ballpark are among the most vocal at saying the heat will do the same.

Well, looks like we’ve both been wrong. Yes, there was a dropoff in gate receipts over June and July (which corresponds with the team’s dropoff on the field that temporarily knocked them out of first). Yet the Rangers remain second in the American League in attendance behind only the Yankees.

The Astros with their climate-controlled comfort are second-to-last. Apparently air-conditioned garbage is still hard to put butts in the seats.

Our modern day society spoils us, there is no doubt about that. We’re able to go anywhere we want in our motorized vehicles to get our lunch in a matter of minutes with no effort on our part. We want comfort all the time.

But with a team looking to make the postseason once again, maybe we should be thankful for what we have and not worry about how it should be better.

Maybe learning to play in the tough conditions have managed to toughen up this team, giving them the strength to deal with the pressure of a pennant race. (And maybe that’s something a certain football team living next door could learn.)

In the meantime, maybe a few fans and pampered media members should learn to deal with less than perfect, non-artificial conditions. Hey, sweating off a few pounds won’t kill you.

It’s better than looking at the standings and seeing your team more than a month out of first.