By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
The drab, dark green padding behind home plate has been replaced by a 32-inch-high brick facade. There is a new Commissioner's Box down the third-base line and new first-class seats that are wider, cushioned, high-backed and closer (52 feet) to home plate than the pitcher.
The manual scoreboard along the left-field fence has been upgraded into a 12-by-84-foot video display board, allowing fans in right field to also see replays. And there are three color information panels spanning 1,200 feet—third-largest in baseball behind Miami's Dolphin Stadium and new Yankee Stadium—along the facades in right field and from foul pole to pole, allowing fans in left field to view other scores.
The Rangers can't do much about a staggering economy that has squeezed customers and cemented to the on-deck circle Hicks' Glory Park development, originally planned to build a bridge between his team's park and the Cowboys' new home. ("Things like naming rights and Glory Park are on hold," Ryan said, "until things get closer to normal again.") And they can't do much about the stifling heat that wilts attendance and scares off elite pitchers. ("In Texas the heat is something you've always got to deal with," Ryan said. "We'd love to put our fans in a cooler environment. But you help that by winning. Makes it feel not so hot, ya know?") But, unlike Dallas nimrods who trumpeted a Trinity River project now bogged down in inefficient levees, they're doing what they can.
Post-game fireworks shows increased from five to 13. An invitation to George W. Bush to attend the home opener. Youth infusion between the lines.
Truth is, you can widen seats and expand scoreboards all you want. But unless you're giving away cold beer, T-bone steaks and happy endings, it won't mean a damn thing unless you win. And the fact remains that Rangers Ballpark has never hosted a single playoff game victory.
"I truly expect us to be competitive in our division," Ryan said. "The young guys we've got will make a difference in the future, but also right now."
If you re-build it, they will...win?