An unfamiliar cheer rang through Globe Life Park on Sunday.
“Let’s go Renegades, let’s go Renegades, let’s go Renegades.”
The match marked Globe Life Park’s transition from baseball field to football stadium, as 17,206 fans greeted the Dallas Renegades, one of eight XFL teams, kicking off its season against the St. Louis BattleHawks at the former home of the Texas Rangers. The BattleHawks beat the Renegades 15-9.
The XFL originally ran for one season in 2001 and discontinued after losing $70 million. The joint-venture from NBC Sports and the World Wrestling Federation emphasized fun, featuring players-selected nicknames on the back of their jerseys and a more violent style of play. There were storylines for players and coaches and commentary from wrestling personalities. Instead of a traditional kickoff, there was a scramble where players ran at each other to get the ball at midfield, eventually resulting in one player separating his shoulder and being out for the remainder of the season.
This time around, the nicknames are gone and there will be no crossover with World Wrestling Entertainment. Both former NFL and college players are present in the league. Most rules resemble the NFL rules, with a few changes aiming to increase the pace of play, including a shorter halftime, no kicked extra points after touchdowns and modifications to kickoffs.
Created by Vince McMahon, WWE chief executive officer, the football league aims to capitalize on fans’ interest in the game after the NFL season concludes.
Dallas resident Chris Henderson said he’s a football fan, but didn’t know much about the XFL. That didn’t stop him from enjoying the game though.
“I mean, football in February, that’s pretty cool,” he said.
The Texas Rangers’ new stadium, Globe Life Field, opens across the street in March. The move left some intrigue on what would happen to their old stadium.
A $10 million renovation later, and the stadium is ready to host all kinds of events, said Sean Decker, Texas Rangers executive vice president for sports entertainment.
Photos: Dallas Renegades fall to St. Louis BattleHawks in their inaugural game at Globe Life Park
The Dallas Renegades of the XFL held their first game Feb. 9 against the St. Louis BattleHawks at Globe Life Park. The Renegades will play ten games in the inaugural season, including four more home games. Dallas lost to St. Louis 15-9 in front of 17,206 fans.
“There’s not a single event that anybody’s talked to us about or that we’ve explored that I don’t have some level of interest in,” he said.
Decker said the renovations took around 100 days and included demolishing 18 rows of seats on the third base side of the dugout and adding 4,000 grandstand seats in what used to be left field.
Other renovations include replacing the dirt and grass field with turf and the removal of the foul poles.
“The facility looks fantastic,” said Rob Carolla, Dallas Renegades communications and media relations director. “It really looks like a great place to play football.”
Arlington resident John Burgdorf said he was happy to see Globe Life Park still being used rather than demolished.
“It’s such a beautiful building,” he said. “When I think of Arlington, I think of the ballpark, and I think a lot of people do too.”
Burgdorf said he’s happy that hosting events like XFL games will help continue the stadium’s legacy.
“It was kind of like my second home,” he said.
The Renegades’ next game is an away game against the Los Angeles Wildcats on Feb. 16. The team’s 10-game regular season concludes April 9.