ARLINGTON – The ‘cathedral’ thought it had seen it all after over 2,100 regular and postseason baseball games and multiple huge concerts in its 25 years of existence.
Sunday afternoon offered a new first for the venerable park as the Dallas Renegades played its first game in history for the revamped XFL and became the first football game ever played inside Globe Life Park.
The Renegades began the new era with a disappointing 15-9 loss to the St. Louis BattleHawks in front of 17,026 fans.
While it has been a cause of consternation for baseball purists, there is no denying that Globe Life Park is the perfect host for football and the Renegades.
“It was a great atmosphere. We were happy everybody came out,” wide receiver Jazz Ferguson said. “They stood behind the defense every time we asked them to. We couldn’t ask for nothing else from them. We just have to execute better as a team.”
The park continues to have the feel of a home away from home and the backdrop provides one of the most unique and majestic views of any football stadium.
“The atmosphere was great and the fans were loud. Wish we could have won the game for them,” defensive end Frank Alexander said. “I enjoyed it and I’m looking forward to the next nine weeks in spite of how today went.”
When the Texas Rangers occupied the ballpark it was known as one of the loudest parks in baseball. The park has not lost its acoustic feel after the renovation as the roar of the crowd was noticeable even though tickets were only sold for the lower bowl.
“It was great,” safety Doyin Jibowu said. “Whenever the energy is rocking like that it really helps you as a player get your energy going. When you have the adrenaline pumping and the crowd being loud it provides a great atmosphere. It was really fun out there today.”
Following the final out inside the ballpark on Sept. 29, 2019, the park underwent a $10 million renovation to transition to a football and soccer field.
A new seating structure was added to left field of the ballpark and seats 4,000 fans while bringing fans closer to the action.
The visitors dugout and 18 rows of seats along the former third base line was demolished and a television broadcast booth along with coaches’ booths was added along the 50-yard line.
The Renegades understand the importance of marching bands to the football atmosphere and seats in the corners of each end zone were reconfigured to accommodate the musicians.
The lighting system also needed to be redirected and over 200 of the light fixtures were either relocated or re-aimed to enhance the lighting for football and soccer games.
The new park is intended to be used for multiple sporting events in the same day. To accomplish this, the areas that were previously used for batting cages are now two new locker rooms.
There is one other change to the park and it is one change that the baseball purists will not appreciate. More than 90,000 square feet of grass and dirt was removed and an unmarked, synthetic grass was added by Shaw Sports Turf.
The playing surface is drawing rave reviews from the players.
“The turf is great. It’s brand new so it’s not kind of flat like old and used turf,” Jibowu said. “It feels almost similar to grass.”
The sports being played have changed but the ‘cathedral’ will always remain the most hospitable and gracious host.