The Ballpark 'Safe' at Home in Arlington
Major league baseball began in 1971 for the Dallas/Fort Worth area, when the former Washington Senators became the Texas Rangers. The team opened at Arlington Stadium, at the time a minor league park that had been renovated and expanded to seat 36,000. After 22 years of playing host to major-league baseball, Arlington Stadium closed its gates forever.
Major league baseball began in 1971 for the Dallas/Fort Worth area, when the former Washington Senators became the Texas Rangers. The team opened at Arlington Stadium, at the time a minor league park that had been renovated and expanded to seat 36,000.
After 22 years of playing host to major-league baseball, Arlington Stadium closed its gates forever. At the end of the 1993 season, the old stadium was torn down, and its footprint is actually part of the parking system serving the Rangers' new facility, The Ballpark, in Arlington.
An open-air stadium, The Ballpark combines modern customer convenience with state-of-the-art protection from the threats of fire, tornadoes and hurricanes. In addition to the ballpark, the structure houses a four-story office building, restaurants, practice facilities and a baseball museum.
Despite these modern amenities, the imaginative design reflects the look of older, traditional venues. And despite its near-50,000 seats on five levels, The Ballpark maintains a feeling of intimacy.
When it came to fire- and life-safety, park management insisted on a flexible design that would not only protect the park and all its ancillary attractions, but also include a good evacuation plan to avoid confusion. The designers decided on a multiplexed, distributed-intelligence early-warning fire-detection system that includes voice-evacuation functions with transponders located all around the park. Control panels monitor smoke detectors in enclosed areas, including the below-grade service level, clubhouses and restaurants. Of course, pull-station fire alarms are located throughout the stadium.
The office building and museum sections are fitted with their own smoke-detection systems. These areas are also protected with access-control systems that have been upgraded with state-of-the-art monitoring equipment and software.
More than 1,200 speakers and strobes are in place for the public address system—which distributes the equipment throughout the park so no fan can ever be more than 75 ft. from a speaker. The "all-call" system on the speakers and strobes doubles for evacuation duty to direct fans from the open stands to interior corridors in case of weather-related hazards, such as tornadoes or thunderstorms.
The main control panel is situated at the security guard station on the main concourse level in the park, and a secondary panel is housed in the office of the security director. Any alarm at the facility directly summonses security personnel and the Arlington Fire Department on a 24/7 basis. Security CCTV is also monitored around-the-clock.
Service: never a lag
Again, the Ballpark management team put a high priority on maintaining fire-code compliance to ensure the life safety of fans, players and employees. Preparation is the key, so it was considered essential that the maintenance contract for the fire-protection and life-safety systems be with a company that was both familiar with the equipment and willing to take the time to advise security personnel on compliance issues.
As a result, the park's full maintenance contract calls for yearly testing and inspections, with all pull stations tested semi-annually. Additionally, there's never a lag in the need for service. In season, service provider response is on a four-hour basis for emergencies, and within 24 hours for normal service requests. During each off-season, complete system upgrades are instituted, as well as fit-ups for new additions and alterations for any other environmental changes.