Rangers EVP On Stadium Criticism: 'They Don't Know Much About Architecture'
By now, every Texas Rangers fan has seen renderings of the $1B stadium HKS will design for the MLB team just south of Globe Life Park. HKS, the go-to stadium designer in North Texas, will ditch some of its original design principles from Globe Life and go back to the basics for the ballpark complex project.
HKS EVP and principal designer for the project Bryan Trubey said stadiums have gotten too large. Trubey and HKS want to emulate America’s original ballparks — like the iconic Wrigley Field and Fenway Park — and that includes scaling back to 42,000 seats.
Although that's about 7,000 seats smaller than the Rangers' existing stadium, it'll still be one of the largest in the league and on par with other recent stadium projects. SunTrust Park, underway now for the Braves, has 41,000, and the Astros' Minute Maid Park, built in 2000, has 42,000 seats.
“Why would you design to have 10,000 empty seats a night on average?” Texas Rangers EVP of business operations Rob Matwick told Bisnow. “This new design gives fans the ability to be closer to the action, which is what many people tell us they want.”
Plans for the stadium’s most prominent element — the retractable roof — have yet to be finalized, and differentiating the look of the roof won’t be easy.
“If you look at several of the most recent retractable roofs in stadiums, they look more similar than they do different,” Trubey said. “That’s not a good move from a brand, architecture or even fan standpoint.”
HKS, which designed Globe Life, AT&T Stadium, UNT’s Apogee Stadium, TCU’s Amon G. Carter Stadium (or its redevelopment, at least), UTA’s College Park Center and other sports stadiums in North Texas and elsewhere, plans to release renderings of the roof later this year.
Better seats and more leg room will please many Rangers fans, but the reception of the new stadium hasn’t been a home run. Matwick opened up about the community's dislike of the $1B stadium's design, a possible third phase of development and how HKS was selected through an invite-only RFP.
Bisnow: How was HKS selected to design the stadium?
Matwick: We reached out to a number of firms in the May-to-June time frame. We had a feel for who we wanted to participate, and then we sent an RFP to five firms. We narrowed it down to two finalists and HKS emerged as our preferred partner. There were many talented firms, but HKS and one or two others have done the majority of sports projects in North Texas. The facts that they (HKS) are here in North Texas and have a history with our ballpark, and with AT&T Stadium, played in their favor. That, and how they responded to what we had in the RFP in terms of our thinking. We’re going to be married here for four years, if not longer.
Bisnow: And the City of Arlington wasn’t involved?
Matwick: Correct. The city did sit in on the interview with the final candidates. They had input.
Bisnow: According to the master agreement, the city will put up $500M and the Rangers will put up $500M to make for a $1B ballpark. How did you decide on that amount?
Matwick: There were discussions with the city relating to what we thought the need would be to build to today’s standards. The other part was what we thought each party could individually support. They had homework and we had homework. We had ideas about what we wanted and the city was receptive to looking at that with us to extend our term to 2054. But there were economic realities on both sides. The number we reached is something each of us can handle. But, of course, the city’s investment is capped. We would be responsible for anything over [the $1B].
Mayor [Jeff Williams] says we’re a $77M boost to the Arlington economy annually. You can’t find a replacement for a $77M engine. Texas Live! will add to the district. That discussion preceded the ballpark discussion. Our expectation is that once we get that open in March ‘18, the ballpark will follow in 2020, and then the momentum will have some ancillary benefit to drive more to the entertainment district. We’re already starting to look at a potential third phase. Things are heating up, which is exactly what the city hoped would happen. We’ve had some very compelling conversations with development opportunities that will bear fruit.
Bisnow: We’ve seen other recent stadiums built for far less of a price tag. To what can your big budget be attributed?
Matwick: The roof certainly adds to it. We don’t have pricing yet, but the roof and the subsequent air conditioning probably adds $130M to $150M to the budget. Secondly, there’s so much building going on. We’ll find out when we get on the street and talk to [subcontractors and general contractors] about just how stretched they are for labor and materials as Texas continues to grow. Beyond that, the technology comes at a price. The WiFi, the video boards, the controls, the integrated menu boards — it all comes at a price. The cost of concrete could be one of the biggest expenses behind all the [aforementioned] things.
Bisnow: You’ve gotten some positive feedback of the design, but a lot of criticism. What do you say to those who are less than pleased?
Matwick: Those people [who] can consider three conceptual renderings to be design, they don’t know much about architecture. People were saying we were mirroring the Astros’ Minute Maid Park. I worked for them for 21 years and was involved in the opening of Minute Maid. I went through that whole transition. The arches that people refer to that look like Minute Maid have been in place at Globe Life since 1994. Minute Maid opened in 2000. If anybody copied anybody, they copied us. Fans tell us they like the architecture of the current park and we think we should carry that forward.
We knew that by putting anything out this early in the process, there would be negative feedback, but we felt like it was the right thing to do. I believe the arches as they were portrayed will stay. These things will be 110 feet high. They’ll be majestic scale — far larger than anything at Globe Life or Minute Maid. I know they’ll be well done. We’re taking great care to make sure design works with Texas Live! and GLP.
Bisnow: What’s the future of Globe Life?
Matwick: It’s still our home for the next three years. Once we get the new stadium designed, we’ll focus on opportunities for Globe Life Park.