Architect’s 1960 drawing of Bi-County Stadium, on the site where Arlington Stadium was eventually built. The dome was planned to start with 31,000 seats and eventually grow to 60-70,000. The architects were Broad & Nelson of Dallas and Preston M. Geren of Fort Worth. Fort Worth Star-Telegram collection UT Arlington Library Special Collections
Architect’s 1960 drawing of Bi-County Stadium, on the site where Arlington Stadium was eventually built. The dome was planned to start with 31,000 seats and eventually grow to 60-70,000. The architects were Broad & Nelson of Dallas and Preston M. Geren of Fort Worth. Fort Worth Star-Telegram collection UT Arlington Library Special Collections

Bud Kennedy

A baseball Arlingdome? The idea’s been around since 1960

By Bud Kennedy

bud@star-telegram.com

(Adapted from a column published Aug. 19, 2004.)

May 19, 2016 11:16 PM

The idea of a domed baseball stadium in Arlington isn’t new.

It’s older than the Rangers themselves — going back 56 years.

The same week the Cowboys came to Dallas in 1960, plans were announced for a domed Bi-County Stadium in Arlington to lure a major league baseball expansion team.

Voters in both Tarrant and Dallas counties had already approved the money.

And this wasn’t just any ballpark. It was a giant, space-age silver dome, just like the one already announced that would become the Houston Astrodome.

The Star-Telegram called it a “space-age” $9.5 million stadium with 31,000 seats to completed by 1961, with eventual seating for 60,000 to 70,000.

One of the architects boasted that “no games will be postponed because of rain or wet grounds.”

According to Star-Telegram files, the dome design was drawn up for a "rush presentation" to entice baseball owners.

A regional commission led by a Dr Pepper executive wanted to huild it. One of the baseball owners would have been Star-Telegram Publisher Amon G. Carter Jr., later a Rangers partner.

Then-Arlington Mayor Tom Vandergriff, now remembered with a statue for his work bringing the Rangers here from Washington, said the domed stadium “will mean millions of dollars to our area. Think of the lure it will be — the stature it will give our area.”

The stadium was also billed as a home for one or both of Dallas' brand-new pro football teams, the Cowboys or the Texans (today’s Kansas City Chiefs).

Two days before the Bi-County Stadium was announced, the Cowboys had lost their first home game ever, a preseason game against the Baltimore Colts in the Cotton Bowl. That week, the Texans made their debut, beating the New York Titans in a preseason game in Abilene.

The idea of an Arlington dome quickly deflated. The American League gave expansion teams to California and Washington, replacing an older franchise that moved to Minnesota. (Ironically, the Washington expansion team moved to Arlington in 1972 and became the Rangers.)

The National League chose Houston (then as the Colt .45s) and the New York Mets.

The stadium land eventually became the site of old Turnpike Stadium and later Arlington Stadium, demolished northwest of the current ballpark.

Imagine if the first domed stadium had been built in Arlington instead of Houston.

Imagine if Arlington could have pulled off this deal 56 years ago.

Bud Kennedy: 817-390-7538, bud@star-telegram.com, @BudKennedy. His column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Never miss a local story.

Sign up today for a free 30 day free trial of unlimited digital access.