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Rangers' new owner announces fan initiatives

Rangers' new owner announces fan initiatives

ARLINGTON -- They started off with lower prices on parking, beer, soda, hot dogs and T-shirts.

"The five basic staples of life," Rangers CEO Chuck Greenberg said at an introductory news conference at the Ballpark in Arlington on Friday.

Greenberg officially moved into his job as the head of Rangers Baseball Express, the new ownership group that has taken over from former owner Tom Hicks. One of his first moves was to announce a series of fan initiatives that mainly called for a reduction in concession and parking prices.

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Parking is going from $12 to $10 although still $5 on Friday. Jumbo hot dogs, sodas, beer, T-shirts, caps and souvenir baseballs are also being reduced slightly. Then there is the cap exchange.

Fans can receive a 20 percent discount on all Rangers caps at the gift shops if they bring in another team's cap in exchange.

"It gives you amnesty and a little bit of a break to put the right cap on," Greenberg said. "We have a whole series of initiatives as far as the fans, but that's the best we would do in 24 hours. This is just the beginning of an extended program that will never end as far as this franchise in being responsive to the fans."

Of course, what fans really want to know about any ownership group is how much money they are going to spend as far as the talent on the field. The Rangers have one of the lowest payrolls in baseball while thriving mainly on the strength of trades, shrewd free-agent signings and homegrown talent.

"We have a core group of players we intend to keep together, and we understand what it will take," Greenberg said. "We recognize what it will take to supplement that talent. We're fully prepared to bear the cost of that because we're here to win."

As far as the new ownership group's agenda, Greenberg outlined it as follows.

• Enjoy the success that the team is having on the field. The Rangers went into Friday's game with the Red Sox enjoying a 7 1/2-game lead in the American League West.

• Meet with the front office. Greenberg did that on Friday.

"I thanked and reassured the front-office staff that did such a remarkable job keeping their poise ... how much that means," Greenberg said. "We didn't come here to substitute or subtract, whatever talent we bring in are additions."

Rangers pricing changes
Item Old New
Jumbo Hot Dog $4.50 $4
24 oz. soda $4.75 $4
32 oz. soda $5.75 $5
20 oz. soda $4.50 $3.75
22 oz. beer $7.75 $7
16 oz. beer $7 $6
Hot chocolate $3 $1
Adult T-shirt $11 $10
Youth T-shirt $9 $8
Adult cap $12 $9
Youth cap $10 $8
Souvenir baseball $6 $5
Parking $12 $10
Changes were announced on Friday.

• Begin the process of filling in senior-level talent. The Rangers are looking for a chief operating officer and Jay Miller currently holds that position for Nolan Ryan's Minor League team in Round Rock. They are also looking for vice presidents for marketing, tickets and sales. Those positions have been empty since Spring Training.

• Enhance the fan experience, and Greenberg said, "That means more than words. We're going to back it up."

• Review the condition of the Ballpark in Arlington, and that goes beyond the repeated need for a new video display board. Some changes will be big and others will be as simple as having the radio broadcasts heard throughout the concourses during the game.

But Greenberg still professes a deep respect for the Ballpark that was originally designed by former club president Tom Schieffer, who devoted four years to the project.

"I think it's breathtaking, the best in the game," Greenberg said. "Everybody who was involved in the initial design did a great job. This has a unique look and feel that's great."

Greenberg said the Ballpark just needs upgrading in video and technology.

"It's out of date not by design but by appliances," Greenberg said. "Those things are easy to correct."

Greenberg said three companies are interested in working with the Rangers on a new video board. Because of the delay in getting the sale completed, Greenberg said they will have to hustle to get it done by Opening Day next year, but it is possible.

"It's very important to respect the original design of the ballpark," Greenberg said. "We're not going to do a cut-and-paste job. We want to make things better quickly but with great care."

Greenberg also wants to upgrade the food choices and also bring them into the seating area. Right now almost all concessions are in the concourses and very few are actually inside the seating areas where they can be a part of the sights, sounds and smells of the game.

"It's a great environment, but we need to reinvent ourselves regularly," Greenberg said.

As far as the fan experience now at the Ballpark, Greenberg said, "I think it's terrific. Chuck Morgan [VP of in-game entertainment] does a great job and our fans have a great time. It's a great time to be a Rangers fan, but we can get better by improving the fan experience. There is nothing wrong with it, but we can make it better."

Rangers fans will experience something else this weekend. The current heat wave is not abating, and the temperatures will be approaching in triple digits for all three games against the Red Sox. That could be especially true on Sunday with the game scheduled for 2:05 p.m. CT.

But Greenberg is not particularly concerned about the heat at the Ballpark.

"I truly believe it's not as big of an issue as some fellas think," Greenberg said. "Much of the year this is as comfortable of a place to play. If you're in the World Series, would you rather play here or in the Northeast? This is the hottest time of year, and we're still averaging 40,000 fans per game."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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