It was Arlington’s day to shine Friday as hosts to the Texas Rangers’ first World Series championship victory celebration. Many in the estimated crowd of 500,000 said they had never seen anything like this in Arlington.
The last time the Dallas Cowboys won the Super Bowl, in 1996, the Arlington entertainment district was barely a concept. Today, when longtime baseball fans arrived in throngs outside Globe Life Field, it wasn’t Dallas’ team they were cheering for. It was Arlington’s.
“Welcome to the American dream city, Arlington Texaaaaaaas!” Mayor Jim Ross said, kicking off a post-parade ceremony after players took turns holding up the World Series trophy. “And does anybody believe that the Rangers made the dream come true?”
LaTrease Hayes, 47, moved to Arlington when she was 10 years old. When traveling outside of the Metroplex, she has always told people she was from the “Dallas area,” assuming they didn’t know where Arlington was.
“As we travel domestically and abroad, we can finally say we’re from Arlington and not Dallas to be geographically recognized,” Hayes said.
Hayes said the win makes the entire city proud since the Rangers have always been an “Arlington staple.”
“We are finally on the map without Dallas being included in the name,” Hayes said. “It solidifies the Rangers organization and proves what us fans knew all along. It unites the city and surrounding areas. It’s always had the influence of family first and a family friendly environment.”
A lot has changed in Arlington since the Rangers won their first American League pennant in 2010, not the least of which is the new Globe Life Field. Billions of dollars in development is under construction in the entertainment district, including a hotel, national museum, luxury apartments and a convention center.
Patty Sanmiguel has lived in Arlington for 30 years and been a Rangers fan since the day she moved to town. She remembers going to games in Choctaw Stadium while she was pregnant with her son, who is an adult today.
Sanmiguel said celebrating the Rangers was emotional for her whole family, and she thinks the win will do a lot to bring more visitors to Arlington.
“I was heartbroken in 2011, and now I cannot even explain the emotion. We cry. We’re just so happy,” Sanmiguel said. “We’re just really excited and happy for the city. Arlington is growing so much, and I’m so happy to live here like 10 minutes away.”
Robert Rodriguez, an Arlington resident and Rangers fan since 1997, said he thinks the World Series glory will lure more people to his city.
“People will want to come just to come to the stadium. We told people before, ‘Come, we’ll take you to the stadium.’ Now, forget it, I know they will now. When you’re champions, they love to come to the stadium for that.”
Rodriguez said he’s never seen an event of this size in Arlington and hopes the win will spur further developments like Texas Live!, which he enjoys attending regularly. He thinks Arlington needed the win and should be distinguished from the rest of the Metroplex.
“I think Arlington should be, because we obviously have the Cowboys stadium and the Rangers here. Especially having this parade here, as opposed to having it in Dallas or Fort Worth. I think this is what’s going to set it apart.”
Arlington police on Friday afternoon estimated at least 500,000 fans crammed into the entertainment district — in a city of nearly 400,000 residents. It was likely one of the biggest sports celebrations in North Texas history, based on estimates, with remarkably few problems other than gridlock traffic trying to get there. Some fans began to arrive Thursday night; parking lots were filling up as soon as they opened. Some fans climbed buildings and fire escapes to get a glimpse of the 2-mile parade route.
By comparison, about 125,000 people filled the streets of Dallas in 1996 after the Cowboys won their third Super Bowl in four years. Three years earlier, about 400,000 overwhelmed the parade route following the Cowboys’ first championship in more than a decade. That party in 1993 didn’t end well — fans swarmed players in their cars and violence broke out after the celebration, with police reporting more than two dozen injuries and 14 arrests.
Kitty Wade, who lives in Azle, said watching the Rangers brings back memories of her childhood growing up in a huge baseball family.
“I’ve always heard that it’s unfair that the Dallas Cowboys are the Dallas Cowboys,” Wade said. “I love the fact that everybody acknowledged that this is Arlington, and this is their people and their sacrifice, because they have to put up with all the craziness every time we have a game, so I’m so happy for the city of Arlington.”
Moving across Texas growing up, Kamal Heikal, 39, has been a Rangers fan his entire life.
“This means so much for the city and community, not even just from a financial standpoint with what’s going on around the stadium, but just for the fans that have been here forever,” Heikal said.
He lived in Arlington for four years before moving to Fort Worth last year and would frequently visit Texas Live! where he found a great community and “family” of Rangers fans.
“With the new hotels going on, the convention center, all that kind of stuff, it’s just going to continue to grow and I can’t wait to see what happens here in the city,” Heikal said.
Nearly 2,000 businesses have moved to or started to move to Arlington during the past two and a half years, the mayor has said. In the development pipeline: a $295 million renovation of AT&T Stadium, the upcoming opening of the $550 million Loews Arlington Hotel and Convention Center, the $230 million National Medal of Honor Museum and the One Rangers Way luxury apartment complex.
Thomas Vasquez of Fort Worth said he has attended more than 500 Rangers games in his life and worked for the team for seven years teaching camps and clinics. He thinks the Rangers’ success is a win for all of North Texas.
“It brings everyone together. You can see the whole Metroplex is here today,” Vasquez said. “I think it’s a win for the entire Metroplex. You can see the vision kind of come to fruition.”
Vasquez said he notices the new buildings popping up in Arlington left and right, and he doesn’t anticipate that growth to slow down anytime soon.
Games will be sold out next year as the defending champions, Vasquez said. And the World Cup coming to Arlington in 2026 will certainly keep the city busy, he said.
Claudia Santos, a Garland teacher who lives in Royse City, said the win helps her foster team spirit with students in her classroom. She said her family has three generations of longtime Rangers fans.
“I think it’s awesome when Arlington and other cities in the DFW area have events like this, and it really encourages the fans to support them even more, not just in sales and merchandise, but just overall events to create that community that we so desperately need even after the pandemic.”