REQUIEM FOR A STADIUM

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Normally I am not big on nostalgia, but as this year’s Major League Baseball season winds down and the Texas Rangers prepare to pack up and move across the street to a new home, the question looms large:  is the architectural beauty of the current stadium destined for the wrecking ball.

I certainly understand why the Rangers want a new stadium.  For all of its wonders, Globe Life Park is open-air and in the summer heat of Texas, that was a poor design decision made back in the early 1990’s.  Arlington is trying to make the most of the change – incorporating the new Globe Life Field (a modern air-conditioned building) into the mega-entertainment center Texas Live!  

Unlike the normal traditionalist in Arlington, it does not bother me that we are getting an even larger, trendier, visitor-centric colossus.  What bothers me is that Globe Life Park is an architectural beauty facing implosion.  It is like someone tearing down the Modern Art Museum in Fort Worth or the Guggenheim. 

Globe Life Park was designed by David M. Schwarz’ architectural firm of Washington D.C., known for its rich, traditional designs.  Schwarz also designed Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth, a work of art in Texas limestone, with two 48-foot-tall angels standing guard at the corners.  He knows how to make pretty buildings.

Of course, “traditional” was exactly the mood requested by the Rangers’ executives at the time.  They wanted a retro stadium reminiscent of the old-time baseball fields like Ebbets Field and Comiskey Park, but interpreted with a twang.

Throughout Globe Life Park, there is a touch of Texas, but it is the exterior that speaks to me loudly every time I pass.  There is a beauty and a heft to the red brick and pink granite exterior topped by green metal structures and graceful arches. Alternating with carvings of longhorn steer heads are a series of bas relief panels – representing historical moments for Texas and for the Texas Rangers. 

There is a symmetry and serenity about the building that suits it to its surroundings – the narrow, winding Richard Greene Linear Park that runs along Johnson Creek.  It is a building worthy of the ground where it rests, as a work of art unto itself.

Of course, the powers-that-be insist that the stadium will be re-purposed.  One of several ideas that has been floated is the development of the park as a multi-purpose playing field flanked by office buildings and/or condos.  I wish I could believe them – and I wish I could believe that the stadium’s architectural integrity would be preserved if its life were extended as part of Arlington’s head-long rush into mega-structures.

— Jonnie Martin

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About jonnietootling

It seems forever that I have seen myself as a writer, enamored of life and great literature. I have been a journalist, a blogger, a published novelist; hold both a Bachelor's and Master's in literature and creative writing. Now in my 70's I am blogging here about existence, philosophy, art, literature, people of every stripe, finding our way through life, and growing old with panache.
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4 Responses to REQUIEM FOR A STADIUM

  1. Laurel says:

    It is sad that many of our buildings are only allowed to live for a few decades. Houses, shopping malls, and great edifices such as your stadium, torn down instead of reinvented. The Colosseum served as housing many times through the ages and still stands. In Teatro Marcello in Rome, built in 13 B.C., there are a few luxury apartments, although over the years it often fell into disuse but was always rescued. How many little houses could benefit from a “Chip & Joanna” remodel and have new life instead of being torn down? I hope your city leaders make a wise decision to save the beauty. Maybe in the year 3020, someone will reflect back on how intelligent it was to preserve this piece of Texas culture.

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    • I am really doubtful. They say they are going to keep it and rent it out for other purposes– but I think that open-air, lack of dome, lack of AC will make that difficult in the summer. And although the stadium is a beautiful piece of architecture, it is an old design. That was purposeful at the time — city leaders wanted a throw-back stadium capturing the nostalgia of early ball parks. But now it sits amid a growing neighborhood of modern design and highrises — each of those quite beautiful — and each sitting agreeably next to another — and the nostalgic stadium begins to look odd in comparison. Sad that humans have so little forethought when constructing a building that ought to stand 100 years, even in America.

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  2. Joella Ewing says:

    So, Jonnie, I want to see pictures. Guess I could Google it. I hope it’s still standing next time I come home so I can see the real structure. Sounds like a real work of art. Thanks for sharing.

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    • Yes, lots of pictures available by Google. But really, until you see it up close and personal, it is hard to appreciate. I drive by it every day on the way to the college. Beautiful building. But as they surround it by more and more modern buildings, I suppose that will detract. Ah well, time marches on.

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