Seven Surprising Things about Globe Life Field’s Design
The last time HKS-designed Globe Life Field hosted a World Series, the team that plays its home games there, the Texas Rangers, wasn’t a participant. That will change this year when the Rangers take on the Arizona Diamondbacks to determine baseball’s best.
In 2020, for health and security reasons during the height of the Covid pandemic, Major League Baseball selected Globe Life Field as the neutral site for that year’s Series matchup between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Back then, Globe Life Field was in its first year of use and fans and players alike were still getting used to the sights and sounds of what remains Major League Baseball’s newest ballpark. Designed and built to provide the ultimate fan experience, at 4 years old, Globe Life Field is still full of surprises and interesting tidbits that make coming to a game or any Globe Life Field event more fun. Here are just a few.
1. It’s All About the Roof
The stars do indeed shine bright deep in the heart of Texas, and fans can see for themselves whenever the Rangers (or Major League Baseball during the playoffs) open the massive retractable roof at Globe Life Field. At 240,000 square feet (22,296 square meters), it is the largest single-panel operable roof in the world. And while it took three weeks to assemble the crane used to hoist the roof into place, it takes slightly less time than that — about 12 to 15 minutes — to open or close it. And even when the roof is closed, the use of 223 ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) cushions, which is lightweight and transparent, allows natural light to filter throughout the stadium.
2. Rock Around the Clock
At Globe Life Field, it’s possible to watch the game while literally sitting in a rocking chair. Located in section 203 outside the Karbach Brewing concession area in left field, the rocking chairs – which do require a game ticket – offer fans the opportunity to experience the game with a Texas “back porch feel” and a birds-eye view. And that’s not all, fans can even watch the game from picnic tables and, out at the Wild Rag Deck in centerfield, they can watch from small taco tables with in-seat service. And even if you can’t nab a seat in a rocking chair or at a picnic table, don’t worry, there are no bad seats within Globe Life Field. All 43,300 seats are designed to provide an intimate look toward the field. Even when fans head out of their seats to grab their favorite concession items or to use the restrooms, the clear, wide concourses —including a 360-degree lower-level concourse that is unique in baseball to Globe Life Field — allow fans to always keep an eye on the action. It’s all part of the overall design plan to take facility beyond just being a place to watch a game, but a place that feels like home for fans and players alike.
“One of the things that rises to the top for me is that (the Rangers) wanted to create a backyard feel, something that was a true destination amidst this larger entertainment district,” said Fred Ortiz, HKS Principal and the lead architect for Globe Life Field. “Something that would lend itself to be welcoming, to allow families and friends to have a really great time, and to actually walk away with some incredible memories.”
3. The World is Watching
Well, maybe not the whole world, but the 58’ by 150’ LED videoboard in right field is among the biggest and brightest in the Major Leagues. And when we say the board is in right field, we mean just that. HKS worked with Major League Baseball to gain approval to place the videoboard in the field of play, the only one like it in baseball. It extends 40 feet from the outfield wall over the playing surface. And although designers also did much research to ensure that a ball never reaches the scoreboard, in the unlikely event a batted ball does strike the board, stadium ground rules call for it to be ruled as a home run.
4. We’re Moving on Up (and Down)
A key design element of any HKS-designed stadium is flexibility, the ability to host a variety of professional and other top-tier events in the facility, sometimes on the same day. Globe Life Field is no different. But the baseball stadium has an additional challenge that AT&T Stadium and American Airlines Center — both also designed by HKS — do not have a 10-inch-high pitcher’s mound in the middle of it. But the mound is never truly removed for non-baseball events. According to Thomas Smith, HKS Principal and Senior Project Architect on the Globe Life Field project, the mound was designed with a hydraulic lift that takes about 10 minutes to raise and lower it whenever necessary.
“With some minor field prep and the push of a button, the mound drops below the playing surface and is covered up in preparation for setting up alternate field events like concerts, football games, or even dirt events like motocross.”
5. The Suite Life
Globe Life Field has 71 long-term suites and 37 nightly suites that offer a range of configurations. In addition, there is ample premium club seating, some of it below the playing field, which gives fans a view and feel equivalent to those of players in the dugout. And the distance from home plate to the field level club behind it is 42 feet, which is simultaneously the closest in baseball and a tribute to baseball pioneer Jackie Robinson. In fact, most of the ballpark’s field dimensions are tributes to former Ranger greats including Adrian Beltre, Ivan Rodriguez and Nolan Ryan. The close proximity of the premium seats is another staple of HKS stadiums; similar seating is found at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, as well as SoFi Stadium in California, the home of the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers.
6. Forward, Arch
One key design element of Globe Life Field is found from outside the stadium and inside into the upper reaches of the outfield concourse where the “arches that make up the north colonnade are inspired by the façade of Choctaw Stadium,” Smith said. Choctaw Stadium was formerly known as The Ballpark in Arlington, the Rangers former home, which HKS also had a hand in designing.
“Instead of simply replicating the arches on the façade of Globe Life Field, our design team decided to rotate the arches 90 degrees so we could maximize indirect daylight into the space while also creating an opportunity for fans to experience the arches as part of their journey to their seats,” Smith said.
Ortiz also noted the architectural shout out to the arches, along with other HKS-designed structures nearby such as AT&T Stadium, Texas Live! and three hotels that, along with Globe Life Field, comprise a major entertainment district that has become a destination location for fans near and far.
“It had to be about the Texas Rangers, its brand its culture, it’s identity,” Ortiz said. “Yes, we made a nod to the architecture of Globe Life Park. You see the beautiful arches that create an incredible feature that’s of the scale of the (entertainment) district. It’s a large window . . . both into the ballpark, and from the ballpark out into the district.”
7. The Global Influence
Globe Life Field has not only transformed the local North Texas sports and entertainment scene, but it has also flexed its design muscle internationally. The Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters were so impressed with Globe Life Field, that team officials asked HKS to design something similar. The 35,000-seat Es Con Hokkaido stadium, the first new ballpark in Japanese baseball in two decades, opened March 30 to much fanfare. Like Globe Life Field, the Japanese stadium’s signature element is a large retractable roof. It also features a 360-degree concourse and the Fighters’ clubhouse is the second largest in the world behind only, you guessed it, the Texas Rangers.