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Big League Stew

Hey, why doesn’t Rangers Ballpark have a roof again?

Big League Stew

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All other things being equal, Rangers Ballpark is a pleasant place to watch a baseball game. Most of the sightlines are good, it has been maintained and updated nicely and it has a couple of cool, quirky features with the home run porch in right field and the distinct-looking suites in center.

Its two biggest drawbacks, however, might make it the first casualty of the "retro" ballpark era. For one, it's located in a sea of Arlington parking lots that it shares with Cowboys Stadium and a Six Flags amusement park. Tailgaters lend to the pregame scene ambiance, but it's different from what you'd get if the park were in downtown Dallas or Ft. Worth.

For another, Rangers ballpark does not have a roof. {YSP:MORE}

This was obviously a huge problem for the ALCS over the weekend. Rain had a big impact on Saturday's Game 1 between the Texas Rangers and Detroit Tigers, and just the mere threat of it caused the league to make the ill-advised decision to postpone Game 2 earlier than necessary. The rain never showed and it created bad pub for MLB.

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Both situations would have been avoidable had Rangers Ballpark been built with a roof, but the threat of rain in the postseason — especially in a place where it rarely pours — is not the reason the Rangers need a ceiling. No, the Rangers could really use a roof for the summer heat that often makes for a brutal experience. While it's true the team drew almost 3 million fans in 2011 anyway, that total is much lower in less successful seasons.

So why wasn't the place built with a lid in the first place? Well, the park opened in 1994 and retractable roofs were far from the rage back then. Only Rogers Centre in Toronto featured one at the time.  The roofs at Safeco Field, Miller Park, Minute Maid Park, Chase Field and the new Miami ballpark were still a ways off.  Neither the technology nor the financing were there at the time.

This issue is obviously getting some new national attention because of what happened over the weekend, but the truth is that the Rangers' roof topic is always hanging around the Metroplex. This summer's heatwave reignited the talk about a roof. Team president Nolan Ryan, however, quickly nixed the idea.

"You can't justify putting a retractable roof on this stadium at the current cost of doing so," Ryan told ESPN Dallas.

Ryan's statement is accurate. But with a few incentives for the Rangers to renovate or relocate — a DFW magazine counts five reasons to move downtown — it'll be interesting to see how this plays out over the coming years. It's crazy to think about moving on from a ballpark that's only 17 years old, though perhaps not as crazy as voluntarily watching a mid-August game with a heat index of 110.

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