Pride and Identity: What's a City without Baseball?

It was 1958 when a committee was formed to study the feasibility of bringing minor league baseball to the Metroplex. That committee was chaired by Tom Vandergriff, who was beginning his seventh year in office as mayor of Arlington.

Arlington had only about 90,000 people in 1972 when professional baseball actually moved into Arlington Stadium some 14 years later.

Texas Rangers Baseball Mayors

The Washington Senators soon became the Texas Rangers, and major league baseball hit a homerun in Arlington!

Fan appreciation was growing in a ballpark that could seat only about 35,000 fans.

Newly elected Mayor Richard Greene remembers leading an effort in 1989 to form a public/private partnership with the new owners to build a modern and much larger major league playing field for the Rangers.

Texas Rangers logoIn 1990, he enlisted Vandergriff to assist in a campaign to inform Arlington voters of the importance of keeping the Rangers in Arlington.

“When team ownership changed in 1988, almost no one thought Arlington could work out a deal to build a new ballpark for the team,” Greene said. “The need for a new ballpark had been established and Arlington stepped up to the challenge when voters overwhelmingly approved a $135 million bond package for the new ballpark.”

Today, what would Arlington be without the Rangers? According to Greene, Arlington would not be the world class city it has become.
“What's happening today is exactly what we contemplated when the Ballpark was being built,” Greene said. “Our city's identity and pride has grown.”

Elzie Odom was mayor when Arlington taxpayers paid off The Ballpark in 2001, nearly 10 years ahead of its scheduled payoff date. The City celebrated with a bond burning ceremony.

“At that time, we never thought a world series was not possible,” Odom said. “We were always optimistic and had a can-do attitude.”

thumbnail MLB World Series 2010“In terms of size and recognition, the city has grown with the Rangers,” he said. “In 1972, when you mentioned Arlington, people right away thought Arlington, Virginia. The Texas Rangers have brought us national recognition we didn't have in 1972.”

This year, the Texas Rangers won the American League Pennant and played in its first-ever World Series. Professional baseball in addition to the recent success of the NBA All-Star game, Cowboys Stadium, the arrival of international bowling, tennis and the Super Bowl XLV coming in February makes Arlington's pride and its identity stronger than ever, said current Mayor Robert Cluck.

“We are proud of the Texas Rangers and all they mean to our city,” Cluck said. “It's been a great season!”

History of Baseball in Arlington Over the Years

1958 A committee is formed to study the feasibility of attracting minor league baseball to the D/FW Metroplex. The committee is chaired by Tom Vandergriff.

1964 Construction begins on the 10,000-seat Turnpike Stadium in Arlington. It was home to the Dallas/Fort Worth Spurs.

1971 Arlington is awarded the franchise for major league baseball.
Turnpike Stadium is renamed Arlington Stadium and the seating capacity is expanded to 35,000.

1972 Arlington Stadium becomes home to the Texas Rangers, formerly the major-league Washington Senators. The Texas Rangers compiled a club record total of 59 sell outs at Arlington Stadium.

1976 The City of Arlington and the Texas Rangers develop a two-year program to renovate and enlarge Arlington Stadium's seating capacity to 42,000.

1987 Texas Rangers purchase Arlington Stadium from the City of Arlington.

1989 An investor group led by George W. Bush and Edward “Rusty” Rose purchases controlling interest in the Texas Rangers from Eddie Chiles.

1990 The Texas Rangers and City of Arlington announce plans to build a new stadium complex adjacent to Arlington Stadium.

1991 Arlington voters approve a half-cent sales tax increase to finance up to $135 million of municipal bonds for construction of a new stadium.

1993 The Ballpark in Arlington becomes the official name for the new stadium.

1994 Arlington Stadium is demolished.

The Ballpark in Arlington opens. The first game is an exhibition contest between the Rangers and the New York Mets on April 1, 1994.

1998 Investor group led by Tom Hicks acquires the Texas Rangers.

2001 The City retires the $135 million bond debt that pays off The Ballpark

2010 Baseball owners approve the sale of the Texas Rangers to a group led by Chuck Greenberg and Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan.

Texas Rangers win their first ever play-off series with a victory over the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 5 of the American League Divisional Series.

Texas Rangers advance to the American League Championship Series for the first time in franchise history and face the New York Yankees.

With a win over the New York Yankees, the Texas Rangers advance to their first ever World Series.