Then and Now: Arlington Stadium, MoneyGram Soccer Park

Throughout our 125th anniversary year, our Then and Now series will share historical photos that connect to the work we still do today. Next, we look at our first baseball stadium and a landfill turned soccer park.

Ready for the Rangers

When Major League Baseball came to North Texas, Freese and Nichols oversaw the expansion of Arlington Stadium into a big-league ballpark. Design and construction began in October 1971 and were complete for the Texas Rangers’ first Opening Day six months later.

When the Arlington city manager, Herman J. Veselka, reached out to Bob Nichols to convert its minor league ball park into the new home for the Texas Rangers, Bob was hesitant. At that time, Freese and Nichols had never built a stadium before. However, the city manager was confident we would do a great job.

Opening Day for the stadium was on April 6, 1972, giving the design team only six months to work on the expansion and upgrade of the facilities to major league status. Seating capacity increased from 21,000 to 35,000, lighting systems were upgraded for color television broadcast at night, new press boxes were built to accommodate all media coverage, a hundred speaker audio system was installed and new clubhouses, ticket booths, restrooms and other public facilities were added.

Roads, bridges and paving were also a part of this project with vehicle capacity increasing from 3,000 to 12,000 and the addition of two new bridges. Old lighting from the stadium was refurbished, to cut costs, and used to light parking areas. Just as soon as the first phase of the project was complete (on time and on budget), design on phase two began. Phase two would go on to include another 10,000 seats and replace 3,000 bench-type seats with theater-type seats, upper deck seating, more public facilities and a new dressing room.

Garbage Into Goals

Fast-forward a few decades later to northwest Dallas, where Freese and Nichols transformed a former gravel pit and landfill into a championship-caliber soccer complex. The complex, which opened in 2014 as MoneyGram Soccer Park, was sustainably designed and incorporated structures made of recycled materials, bioswales to filter runoff, rainwater harvesting and wastewater recycling.

During the early 1900s, the site had previously served as a gravel and mining pit then later became a landfill, which ceased operations in 1982. Following its closure, the landfill was used as an illegal dumping site and stockpiling of crushed concrete.

Recognizing the need for both tournament-level soccer facilities and more park facilities in the Walnut Hill area, in 2002, the City of Dallas, identified the former landfill and illegal dump site as a potential location.

The design team was able to save the client more than $1 million dollars on the project by using 250,000 cubic yards of free dirt from the LBJ Freeway construction project to provide soil stability and cutting special trenches during construction to address environmental issues. To prevent cross contamination of potable water supply, the team worked with Dallas Water Utilities and specified double-walled water pipes as the main conduit to convey water across the landfill.

The park complex was designed to be aesthetically pleasing, functional and sustainable with opportunities for other types of recreation as well, such as picnic areas and walk/bike trails. The soccer fields themselves are of hybrid sports turf material, which is a durable variety planted in a special soil mix that allows the fields to dry quickly, making them world-class and an attraction for high-end sports operators. This allows for the fields to be ready for play within 30 minutes after a half-inch rain storm.