Texas Rangers Could Help Pitch for World Cup Game With Ballpark Reconfiguration
Construction Starts to Transform Former Baseball Park to Host Football, Soccer
Michael Barnett, left, managing principal of SBL Architecture, and David Anderson, right, are leading the design team reconfiguring Globe Life Park in Arlington. (Candace Carlisle/CoStar News)
Dan Hunt remembers watching baseball games with his father Lamar Hunt at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas, an open-air ballpark in North Texas with the capacity for more than 49,000 fans and longtime home of Major League Baseball's Texas Rangers.
"Not many people know this, but my father wasn't only a college football player, he was also a college baseball player," Dan Hunt, president of FC Dallas, said in an interview with CoStar News, while surveying the ballpark. "The majority of the baseball games I've seen in my life have been here."
Construction started this week to transform Globe Life Park from a professional-level baseball diamond into a multipurpose sports area, with plans to host two new sports and serve as a venue for fans to gather within walking distance of AT&T Stadium and the new $1.1 billion Globe Life Field, which is under construction and should be completed in the next few months. Once done, the Rangers plan to play games at the new enclosed facility in mid-March after 26 seasons pitching baseballs at the older open-air ballpark.
Along with overseeing Major League Soccer's FC Dallas, Hunt also recently oversaw the $55 million redevelopment of Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, which recently brought the National Soccer Hall of Fame to fruition. He also is leading FC Dallas affiliate, the North Texas Soccer Club of the USL League One, which is one of two sports tenants recruited to play at the next iteration of Globe Life Park.
The Dallas Renegades, a professional football team readying for its inaugural season in the XFL, which is owned by Vince McMahon, is slated to kick off at Globe Life Park in February.
Dan Hunt, president of FC Dallas and Dallas host committee chairman of the 2026 FIFA World Cup, speaks at a press conference at Globe Life Park in Arlington. (Candace Carlisle/CoStar News)
"I thought this was an interesting marriage you wouldn't see anywhere else in the country," Hunt said. "Soccer that may help grow a football audience that may help grow a soccer audience. Then from a civic standpoint, the Rangers and Globe Life are partners in other ways working to come together to keep this stadium alive, which shows a commitment to the community."
To transform a baseball diamond into a rectangle playing field is difficult, with designers having to remove about 6,000 seats and redo the dugouts to accommodate the width and depth needed to create a multipurpose sports facility. Plans also include adding thousands of other seats to the outfield, narrowing the diamond into more of an oblong shape. And it all needs to happen in about three months.
The ballpark's transformation seems intense, limited by the end of the Rangers season and the beginning of the Renegades foray into bringing the XFL to Dallas. But not only are the team's seasons on the line, but so could the opportunity for North Texas to help host the 2026 FIFA World Cup after a joint bid by North American countries the United States, Mexico and Canada was awarded the tournament last year.
"We have been working on it, spending time with U.S. Soccer and also FIFA," said Hunt, who is the Dallas host committee chairman in recruiting efforts for the World Cup game. "We could have games right across the street at AT&T Stadium and this could give teams an alternative training facility. We could also do some cool fan festival in conjunction with the 2026 World Cup or do the largest broadcast or attended event between AT&T Stadium and the size of this stadium of any World Cup game."
With Dallas being a "big event city," Hunt said he's hopeful the region will land a World Cup game, but a decision has yet to be made, even though, "things are going fast."
It's not easy to reconfigure a ballpark designed specifically for baseball, said Michael Barnett, managing principal of SBL Architecture, an Arlington, Texas-based architecture firm with offices at Globe Life Park overlooking the field the firm also happens to be redesigning.
"It's extremely difficult to redo the design of the stadium because it's not large enough for football and soccer," Barnett said in an interview. "That's why we now have to remove seating and concrete to extend the field about 20 yards in that direction. We have to deconstruct part of the stadium."
The revamped field, running alongside where the current first baseline at the ballpark, will be re-oriented in the stadium with new seating brought in for fans to get an up-close experience. Other stadiums built specifically in mind as multiuse sports arenas are easily converted from sport to sport, but Globe Life Park was never intended to be anything except a ballpark when it was originally designed, Barnett said.
"We've done some athletic projects, but we've never done a retrofit like this," he added.
Manhattan Construction is overseeing the project's construction work. Barnett said the XFL will play in mid-February one way or another, which is why he expects there could be up to three shifts a day working on this project to fast-track it to completion.
The Texas Rangers will act as the landlord moving forward at Globe Life Park, with plans to potentially add high school football games and other events to the mix of about 30 on-field committed dates thus far for the stadium.
In all, the Rangers control or own about 200 acres surrounding the two ballparks in Arlington and Texas Live!, a mixed-use development being constructed in a partnership with The Cordish Cos. The partners have already developed a hotel, as well as retail and restaurant space in the initial phase of the multiphase project, with additional development on the horizon.
"We want to create a walkable district in the next 10 to 15 years," said Rob Matwick, the executive vice president of business operations for the Texas Rangers, adding it would be like Victory Park, a 75-acre mixed-use development surrounding the American Airlines Center, which is where the Dallas Mavericks and Dallas Stars play in Dallas, but bigger. "We still think there's a need for additional hotel capacity, as well as additional retail space to come on board. Later, residential won't be out of the realm.
"We have been impressed by the Cordish Cos.' Power and Light District in Kansas City," he added. "We think we can do the same thing here."
A conceptual rendering of the field conversion project at Globe Life Park. (Courtesy of SBL Architecture)
Another conceptual rendering of the new design with the first baseline to the far side of the artwork. (Courtesy of SBL Architecture)