Jason Bryant, Randall Meeks and Rick Hatley at the top of Globe Life Park in Arlington during a 104-degree afternoon Thursday. Fans at the game between the Rangers and Rockies were divided on whether they preferred the current open-air ballpark or a proposed new one with a retractable roof. Paul Moseley pmoseley@star-telegram.com
Jason Bryant, Randall Meeks and Rick Hatley at the top of Globe Life Park in Arlington during a 104-degree afternoon Thursday. Fans at the game between the Rangers and Rockies were divided on whether they preferred the current open-air ballpark or a proposed new one with a retractable roof. Paul Moseley pmoseley@star-telegram.com

Arlington

Sweating it out: Some Rangers fans want AC; heat’s OK with others

August 13, 2016 3:01 PM

ARLINGTON

Whoever first broke a sweat in the Texas heat walking to the mailbox has nothing on the folks who climbed to Section 332, Row 7 at Globe Life Park in Arlington on a frying-panlike August afternoon.

“I was up there for two minutes and it felt like a water faucet was running down my back,” said Marvin Burns of Duncanville, a longtime Rangers fan who spent Thursday at the ballpark with pal Ray Hayes of Dallas. They bought seats that are perched high above first base and are not spared from the sun’s sweltering rays. They soon sought shelter in a shaded section well down the right-field line.

Thursday’s solar cauldron heated up the ballpark like a red-brick oven and served as a pitch-perfect advertisement for the retractable-roof stadium the club’s newest owners are pushing. Arlington residents will vote on whether to allocate tax money for the proposal in November.

The four-hour, three-minute ballgame was played under a National Weather Service heat advisory. The mercury rose from 98 degrees at first pitch at 1:05 p.m. to 104 well before the final out. The heat became so intense it shut down a scoreboard and melted down the home team’s bullpen, yet somehow put a jolt into the bats of the Rocky Mountain visitors who figured more likely to wither first.

20,720 official attendance at Thursday’s game, the smallest crowd of the season. But only about half that number appeared to actually be there.

Official attendance was 20,720, the smallest crowd of the season. Realistically, maybe half that number actually watched the Colorado Rockies beat the Texas Rangers in a 12-9 slugfest. And many of those folks quickly flocked to shaded areas like the top 15 rows or so ringing the upper deck and the home run porch beyond right field.

Four innings were enough for Abigail Flores, 9, of Mesquite, who was small enough to ride into the ballpark on her dad’s shoulders the last time she attended a Rangers game. Unfortunately for Julio Flores, who scored a friend’s season tickets behind the Rangers dugout — and in full-on sun — things turned intolerable as the stadium’s absorbent green seats became pants-searing butt warmers that only football fans in Green Bay would welcome.

When the Floreses checked out of this rare summer matinee scheduled so the Rockies could get a jump on their next series in Philadelphia, the stadium scoreboard read 102º F.

A roofed stadium nowadays is really the way to go. That way it doesn’t prevent you from coming out.

Julio Flores of Mesquite, who had premium seats behind the Rangers dugout Thursday but had to leave early because his 9-year-old daughter was getting too hot

“She was hot,” Julio Flores said of his daughter. “A roofed stadium nowadays is really the way to go. That way it doesn’t prevent you from coming out. We had some killer seats so I would have loved to stay for the whole time.”

Not everyone who braved the heat agrees with the need for temperature control. Some spectators exhibited a sense of bravado, suggesting that outlasting Mother Nature should be viewed as a badge of honor.

“I’m disappointed they’re tearing down the stadium after only being in existence for [about] 20 years,” Keith Lynch of Dallas said. “And it’s particularly disturbing that they’re using tax dollars. Obviously, everybody would prefer to be indoors, but I think that’s what makes this place unique. It makes taking in a game here a very unique experience.”

Then again, maybe Lynch was the wrong person to ask after he revealed his inner adventurer. Two years ago, he left work and canoed 4,000 miles from Montana to Dallas on the Missouri, Mississippi, Red and Trinity rivers.

Still, some who just wanted to escape the office for a day seemed motivated to suck it up and stick it out.

“Oh, no, this is great,” said Karen Turner of Chapel Hill, a tiny community southeast of Tyler, who attended the game with several co-workers. They sat in the sun on the Lexus Club Level. “I had reservations about coming, but there’s a little bit of a breeze today so we’re not absolutely dying. See the flags?”

Equipped with sunscreen, hand-held misting fans and lots of water — and maybe a tall margarita or two — Turner and her friends Kiya Gage of Kilgore and Jennifer Williams of nearby Overton seemed perfectly happy to glisten in the sun. They took a little tongue-in-cheek pride, too, in not yielding to it while pointing to the vacated seats of company co-owner Bobbie Guinn and client Lacy Marshall, who had retreated to the concourse.

“It’s hard to sit out here, but it’s worth it,” Gage said. “And [the heat] will make it that much more worth it.”

However, when asked if they’d attend more games if the stadium had a roof, the trio responded in unison: “Absolutely!”

Andy Dvorocsiks of Dallas attends 15 to 20 Rangers games a year. He skipped work to attend Thursday’s game solo. He strategically purchased his seat in the higher rows of the lower level where he knew he would be safely under cover.

“I think that a day like today” with an indoor stadium, “they would have a full house instead of mostly empty,” Dvorocsiks said.

The Rangers’ average home attendance through Friday was 34,032. That ranks 10th among the 30 major-league teams and fifth in the American League, behind Toronto, New York, Los Angeles and Boston.

A full house might be a bit of an exaggeration. Not even weekday games in April and May draw exceedingly well, though it is unrealistic to argue that the first-place Rangers playing in an air-conditioned stadium would not have drawn closer to the team’s home attendance average of 34,032 through Friday’s games. That ranks 10th among the 30 major-league teams and fifth in the American League, behind Toronto, New York, Los Angeles and Boston.

Performance continues to be the ultimate draw with few exceptions like Thursday’s scorcher. The Rangers struggled on the field much of last season, and it reflected at the gate; they finished 16th in attendance in the majors. Indoor digs didn’t keep the Astros out of the bottom five in attendance during recent lean seasons. Improvement in the standings the last two seasons has.

Still Dvorocsiks, a Dallas Stars season ticket holder, said he would consider purchasing Rangers season tickets if they played indoors. He was contemplating bringing his family to Sunday’s 2:05 p.m. game against the Detroit Tigers and was plotting where to sit.

“I was looking to see how many rows down at 2:05 were in the shade versus what was in the shade today at 1:05,” Dvorocsiks said.

If the family makes it out, strategy might not be needed. The weather cool-down could make for a comfortable game from anywhere in the stadium. (Unless it rains; then score another one for the roof crowd.)

Beer man Terry Renner, perhaps the sweatiest of all, is surprisingly not a roof guy. He lugs some 70 pounds of beer and ice up and down the stadium’s steps all season. Thursday’s hellacious conditions deflated beer sales, he said, but not his stance.

“Personally, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this stadium,” Renner said. “It’s hot, but it’s summertime in Texas.”

Jeff Caplan: 817-390-7005, @Jeff_Caplan

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