Double-A Frisco's ballpark set for a facelift

Club owner Greenberg planning major improvements to Dr. Pepper Ballpark

Double-A Frisco's ballpark set for a facelift

FRISCO, Texas -- The man who took Class A Myrtle Beach away from the Rangers has no intention of doing the same with Double-A Frisco.

"This is the perfect partnership," Frisco owner Chuck Greenberg said on Saturday afternoon at the Dr. Pepper Ballpark. "It would be crazy for either club to change that."

After 12 years, the partnership may only get better. Greenberg, who along with Scott Sonju bought the Frisco Roughriders last summer from Mandalay Entertainment, is planning major improvements to Dr. Pepper Ballpark -- with an official announcement coming in February.

"Dr. Pepper Ballpark was truly iconic in its original design," Greenberg said during Saturday's Roughrider FanFest. "But after a dozen years or so, things get worn down. We're planning massive upgrades to anything that has to do with entertainment."

Greenberg said the Roughriders will also add touches to Dr. Pepper Ballpark that will make their affiliation to the Rangers more pronounced.

"Anything we can do to tie ourselves to the Rangers beyond player development, we're going to do," said Greenberg, who also owns Minor League teams in State College, Pa., and Myrtle Beach, S.C.

The Rangers were affiliated with Myrtle Beach for four years. That goes back to when Greenberg headed up the ownership group that bought the Rangers in the 2010 bankruptcy auction. Greenberg moved the Rangers' high Class A team to Myrtle Beach before he left the ownership group in '11.

Myrtle Beach is considered one of the top Class A locations, but Greenberg switched to the Cubs last fall. It wasn't a falling out with the Rangers as much as trying to help draw tourists from Chicago to the Myrtle Beach area.

Frisco is strictly Rangers territory, just 35 miles to the northeast of Globe Life Park. Having a Minor League affiliate in the same market as the big league club was once unheard of in baseball, but has been a growing trend lately. The Yankees and the Mets both have Class A teams in the New York area on Staten Island and in Brooklyn, respectively.

"We cultivate baseball fans," Greenberg said. "It's good for everybody. My experience on both sides is, it's like two flavors of ice cream. It's all great."

Former Rangers general manager Doug Melvin had the original idea of putting a Minor League team in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The push to Frisco began in 2001, under former Rangers owner Tom Hicks.

Once a small town of 2,000 in the middle of horse-ranching country, Frisco was emerging as a major suburb in far north Dallas and looking for a signature attraction. On the other side, the Rangers were looking to boost their presence in an affluent part of the Metroplex that had not been a major source of ticket revenue for them because of the distance from Arlington.

The Roughriders have helped the Rangers establish that presence. The continued expansion of the President George Bush Turnpike over the past 10 years has helped them exploit an area that continues to grow. Toyota is the latest of many major companies moving into the Frisco-Plano area. The Dallas Cowboys announced last year they are moving their practice facility and team headquarters from Irving to Frisco.

As of Dec. 1, 2014, Frisco had a population of 144,460. The Roughriders have led all Double-A clubs in attendance the last 10 years and were ranked by Forbes Magazine as the fourth most-valuable Minor League franchise in '12.

"The Frisco area is so dynamic, with all the growth and the companies and families moving here," Greenberg said. "It's the ideal Double-A franchise."

The proximity to Arlington also allows Rangers officials to make the short drive to see their Double-A team and allows an easier trip for players on medical rehabilitation assignments.

"It definitely helps not having to fly around," said pitcher Matt Harrison, who has had to make five rehab starts with Frisco over the past two years. "This makes it easier and [Triple-A] Round Rock isn't too bad, either."

"They could have sent me to [Class A short-season] Spokane, as long as I was getting my work in," said pitcher Derek Holland, who made two starts for Frisco last season. "But we do like [Frisco]. I would say it is one of the nicest facilities around. We got spoiled here."

Myrtle Beach was nice, too. But the Rangers were forced to change their Class A affiliation to High Desert in the California League after Greenberg wooed the Cubs. The Rangers are the eighth Major League team to be affiliated with High Desert, located in the town of Adelanto, in the past 28 years. The club's Maverick Stadium is considered extremely hitter-friendly, which could be tough on young pitchers.

"We'll take great care of them when they come here [to Frisco]," Greenberg said.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.