When Todd Frazier hit the Rangers’ first home run in the team’s new stadium on Wednesday, fans roared their approval. The cheering almost overwhelmed the team’s iconic home run song.
But no one was actually in the stands.
The cheers were from recordings, pulled from hundreds of hours of old crowd noise the team is using to make games in an empty stadium feel less strange.
Globe Life Field, the result of a $1.2 billion partnership between the Rangers and the city of Arlington, was completed just as the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the world and postponed the start of baseball season.
Chuck Morgan is the team’s executive vice president of ballpark entertainment and the voice that delivers the team’s signature line, “It’s baseball time in Texas.”
He said they started planning for the possibility of not having fans months ago, when team DJ Michael Gruber started collecting old crowd sounds.
“When somebody tells you, hey, it looks like we’re not gonna have any fans in the ballpark, you say, what do you mean we’re not gonna have fans in the ballpark? That’s just not baseball,” Morgan said. “You gotta have the fans cheering and eating their hot dogs and enjoying themselves.”
Without that, Morgan said he hopes the crowd noise amps up the players.
“If there wasn’t any sounds or anything, I think they’d have a difficult time,” he said. “You know, even though they’re professional athletes, I do think they get motivated by having a big crowd behind them. It would have really been weird not to have any type of sound at all.”
It would also be weird to play to empty seats, which is why the Rangers are accepting $50 donations to the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation to have a cardboard cutout of a donor placed behind home plate.
Living, breathing fans can still get an in-person look at their team’s new home by paying for a tour.
Tour guide Hannah Krebel wore a mask and face shield as she led a group of about a dozen people through the stadium on Wednesday. She asked everyone to keep their masks on at all times, and to avoid touching things and sitting down.