ARLINGTON, Texas - The Texas Rangers began their final season at Globe Life Park on Thursday with nice weather, but some hiccups for fans trying to get inside the ballpark.
Numerous fans were caught in long lines outside the ballpark, a problem the organization attributed to late arriving crowds all trying to enter at the same time.
"Over the last few years, tailgating on opening day has become more and more popular and as a result, you have a big surge of fans trying to enter the park in the last 30 minutes before the game, especially from the north. And with the addition of Texas Live! we saw more fans hanging out there until soon prior to first pitch south of the park," a Rangers spokesperson said in a statement.
The team said all of the fans waiting in line were inside the stadium by 37 minutes after first pitch.
It was the first opening day for new Rangers manager Chris Woodward and already he may have ticked off one of his veteran players. Shin-Soo Choo, the designated hitter, was supposed to be part of the opening day lineup but he was replaced by Hunter Pence. Choo is in the sixth year with the Rangers. He’s scheduled to make $21 million and he even dyed his hair gray just to be a part of the ball club.
Choo told FOX 4’s Edward Egros he was not too happy about it, telling him to talk to the manager about why he’s not part of the opening day roster. He added he feels like he can be an everyday player and will get out there and do the best.
At the same time, Woodward said they are not facing too many lefties against the Chicago Cubs for the opening day game and so Pence will the designated hitter.
But for many, the focus was on taking in the final opening day at the ballpark. For even some of the players, it’s a bittersweet day.
“Made my debut here… a lot of memories I’ll never forget. And I think that’s one thing that’s important for us to try and go out with a bang and try to go and help the fans remember this place. It’s a special place. A lot of great things happened here,” said Joey Gallo, the Rangers first baseman. “We are excited to get a roof on our head too. It gets pretty hot here!”
Next year the team will play across the street in the new retractable roof ballpark – Globe Life Field.
Rob Matwick, the executive vice president of business operations for the Rangers, said construction on the new ballpark is right on schedule.
“Construction’s going great. We’re on schedule so that’s the most important thing at this time. And in fact, this morning we have one of our last major concrete pours that we’re finishing up over in the northwest corner. So you might see some trucks and hear some noise in the background,” he said.
Matwick they’ve also begun working on the retractable roof. It’s a critical phase of the construction should take about a year to complete.
Opening day was also the first time fans could try some of the new concession items in the ballpark. This year’s highlight is the Fowl Pole. It’s a massive, 2-pound chicken tender served on a bed of waffle fries.