As part of a 10-week series, Eye on Baseball and Choice Hotels will be taking you around the major leagues, picking out the hits and highlights of some of the game's top stadiums. What to eat, what to drink and what to see both inside and outside the park will all be covered as part of the series. There's a lot to cover and uncover, so visit the comments section to let us know what we missed.
The Texas Rangers got a new home in 1994, when they began play in The Ballpark in Arlington. The name was changed to Ameriquest Field in Arlington on 2004 and then to Rangers Ballpark in Arlington for the 2007 season. This year is the first year that it is known as Glove Life Park in Arlington. The ballpark was one of the first to follow Baltimore's lead in being a retro-style yard and currently seats 48,114.
Eats outside the park
The immediate area surrounding the ballpark is mostly parking lots and a park (which is real nice). So, unlike many ballparks, there aren't lots of options right across the street. There are options within reasonable walking distance, though. Pappadeux is an excellent seafood grill and is either a decent walk or a very short drive away. Want some good ol' fashioned southern comfort food? How about Babe's Chicken Dinner House. A bit more upscale spot would be Olenjack's Grille. There are chains aplenty, too, like Chili's, Olive Garden, etc. Perhaps the best option ...
Drinks outside the park
Tailgate! Look, we know tailgating is mostly a football thing, but it's Texas. Surrounding the stadium there are several different areas where Rangers fans regularly tailgate. There's even a "Tailgating map" on the Rangers official website. Otherwise, many of the area restaurants mentioned above have bar areas. Tailgate Tavern is a Dallas Cowboys styled sports bar, but it's close enough to walk to baseball games and usually has good drink specials. We're partial to the tailgate, though.
What to see outside the park
It's a real nice area and there are several points of view where one can see Six Flags over Texas amusement park, Globe Life Park and AT&T Stadium, home of the NFL's Dallas Cowboys. Here's a panoramic shot from our own Matt Snyder back during the 2011 World Series week:
Note the roller coasters on the far left with Globe Life Park in the middle and AT&T Stadium on the right. In fact, a real fun weekend trip -- if this stuff is all your thing -- could be something like Six Flags Over Texas on Friday, a Rangers game Saturday and a Cowboys game Sunday. Things would have to break right with the scheduling in September, but it's surely possible every once in a while. There are several hotels within walking distance, too.
Around the stadium, the architecture is aesthetically pleasing, but it's pretty much the same all the way around. No need for a perimeter walk. There is a statue of Shannon Stone and his son, Cooper, titled "Rangers fans," in honor of the firefighter who died in the ballpark in 2011.
Food inside the park
There's outstanding variety here and one can gorge himself if so inclined.
We're gonna start with the Boomstick aka Champion Dog. It's ridiculous: A two-foot-long hot dog with chili, cheese, sauteed onions and jalapenos. It can be had for $26 at the Captain Morgan Club. It's not alone. There's a one-pound burger called a Beltre Buster, a $7 bacon on a stick (dipped in maple glaze) or a Choomongous -- a two-foot long Korean BBQ sandwich with spicy cole slaw and sriracha mayo. It's also $26.
Get this: They also have frozen beer. Like a slushy but beer.
What else? How about Fry Depot, where you can grab garlic or cajun french fries. Ryan's Express 34 has Nolan Ryan beef burgers. There's a pizza burger (burger with cheese and pepperoni, wrapped in pizza dough and baked). Smokehouse 557 (center field) has some excellent briskey and turkey legs. Street tacos? Check. Churro vendors? Check. Almost anything you can imagine for ballpark food can be found here.
What to see inside the park
In Vandergriff Plaza, there are statues of Nolan Ryan and Tom Vandergriff, the longtime Arlington mayor who helped lure the Washington Senators to Texas. The Batter's Eye Club in center field is a cool location, as it's directly above Greene's Hill (the grass area in center field) and has a great view of the entire playing surface. Also, the area behind home plate is the closest in the majors, so getting to the park early and walking down to the front row is pretty cool.
For those interested, there's also a Kid's Zone in center field with some fun games for the youth crowd.
Otherwise, there are really very few bad seats. It may not have the history of Fenway Park or the views of AT&T Park, but Globe Life Stadium is still a great place to watch a baseball game -- and that's really what it's all about. Just make sure to sing along to "Deep in the Heart of Texas" so you blend in.