There’s a wonderful website called This Great Game, which bills itself as The Online Book of Baseball. It’s filled with fascinating stories about the histories of teams and ballparks and players.
In the Ballparks section, they have a history of Arlington Stadium, which you can read here, that’s really a history of how major league baseball arrived in Arlington. It’s hard to believe but as teams were relocating and expansion was being kicked around, DFW was not being considered because it was just too hot to enjoy watching baseball here. You couldn’t play day games here, and night baseball under the lights was just starting to be a thing.
Once the great migration of franchises started with the Dodgers moving from Brooklyn out west, the DFW area began trying to lure a franchise here, with no luck.
Frustrated with the lack of expansion, an enterprising upstart called the Continental League was created in 1959 by William Shea, the guy behind Shea Stadium, as a third major league. There would be teams in Denver, New York City (since it lost both the Dodgers and Giants), Houston, Minneapolis, and Toronto. Three other cities were added by the time the league had planned to being play in 1961: Atlanta, Buffalo, and Dallas-Fort Worth.
With a franchise in the new Continental League coming, Tom Vandergriff, the driving force to get baseball here, hired the architectural firm Preston M. Geren & Associates to design the new ballpark. They came back with this $9.5 million ballpark design.
As the article in The Great Game states, the design was “far more ambitious than anything Arlington Stadium would end up eventually becoming. It called for an initial open-air venue holding 35,000 seats with a domed roof, air conditioning and “invisible” lighting to be added a year later; further expansion plans called for an increase to over 60,000 seats with the addition of a second deck. All they had to do was raise the roof, however that would have been managed.”
It wasn’t a shed, it was a space ship. It looked like every UFO from every sci-fi movie in the 50s. Had it all worked out, this would have been the Arlington Stadium.
Obviously, it never happened. Instead, the Arlington Stadium everyone not so fondly remembers happened. Because, once it was announced the new Continental League would begin play April 18, 1961, both the American League and National League responded by announcing they would expand.
The National League offered Shea an expansion franchise in New York in addition to a new team in Houston. That did two things.
One, it killed the Continental League before it even got started since the guy who started it got what he really wanted in the first place, a major league franchise. Why throw a party when you are invited to a better one?
Two, it was a kick in the teeth to Dallas-Fort Worth that Houston got the expansion franchise and they didn’t.
The rest is history. Most of which consists of baseball fans in this area being kicked in the teeth.