Locals don't need to be reminded that everything is bigger in the Lone Star State. But the Texas Rangers baseball team seems set on proving the old adage with the opening of Texas Live, a massive entertainment and dining complex that flanks Globe Life Park in Arlington.
The $250 million project, backed by the Rangers, the Cordish Companies and the city of Arlington, debuted in early August with a weekend's worth of parties that showcased its new eateries, concert venue and, of course, home-team pride. Now, Texas Live hopes to keep the celebration from lunch to late night throughout the week.
Planning a visit? Here's what you need to know before you go.
Where to park
Visitors to Texas Live park in Lot B on the south side of the ballpark, but your experience doing so will vary depending on the day. Or rather, the game day.
When there aren't events scheduled at Globe Life Park or the nearby AT&T Stadium, guests of Texas Live are able to park for free. But if the Rangers or the Dallas Cowboys have a home game or a special non-sporting event, expect to pay a fee.
On Aug. 13, when the Rangers played the Arizona Diamondbacks, I paid $20 to park even though I was not attending the game.
There is one loophole, however: If you plan to go on a game day, parking attendants don't start collecting fees until 3 p.m., so arrive early.
Texas Live's size is striking. The two-story, 200,000-square-foot venue revolves around a central space called the Live Arena, which has a 100-foot video wall that can be divided into screens of varying size. Fans can watch sports from the first-floor dining area that features booth, bar or table seating in front of the TVs, or from a second-story overlook.
Rest assured, this isn't the only place you can catch a game. There are dozens of TVs throughout the complex, so you'll be hard-pressed to miss a home run. Or any sports moment, for that matter. Texas Live showcases a variety of sports including football, hockey, basketball, UFC and more. There are also a few shops where you can pick up some baseball apparel and memorabilia.
Despite Texas Live's open-concept feel, several restaurants and patios are tucked away on the outer edges of the building. So depending on where you dine or imbibe, you may feel like you're in a sports-themed mall food court or in a stand-alone eatery.
Wherever you post up, know it's not exactly patio season — and not just because of the weather. Texas Live is still undergoing major construction on an adjacent hotel and brewery that are set to open in 2019 and a new baseball stadium expected to debut in 2020. Construction is noisy during the day, though the volume of music inside the venue drowns out most of the sounds of industrial equipment.
What to eat
A word of advice if you're going to Texas Live: Come hungry. Seven restaurants reside under one roof here, serving a variety of tastes. The Live Arena, the Miller Tavern and Sports and Social Arlington offer typical sports-bar fare, such as wings, sandwiches, loaded fries, salads and sliders. The Miller Tavern also serves pub grub like fish and chips, while Sports and Social adds pizza and tacos to the mix.
Troy's, a spot named for and owned by legendary Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman, specializes in gourmet burgers, with flavors like Korean BBQ (with the patty topped with bulgogi glaze, kimchi, onion, daikon slaw, kimchi mayo and Korean barbecue sauce) and Pimento Cheeseburger (topped with grilled onion, jalapeño and garlic sauce). The restaurant has its own secluded dining room with a small stage for live music.
Craving some 'cue? Local favorite Lockhart Smokehouse has a large location with bar and table seating at Texas Live. Expect to find brisket, chicken, ribs and sausage.
There are two additional counter-service options with famous names attached. First, is Guy Fieri's Taco Joint, which serves — as you might suspect — tacos. The street-style eats come three to an order and tortillas are served "Guy's way": seasoned with borracho sauce and fried. Choose between fillings such as carne asada, al pastor, avocado or "cheeseburger" (ground beef with "super melty cheese" and Fieri's signature Donkey Sauce). And choose you must — there's no mixing taco types for one order.
Former Texas Ranger Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez's namesake Pudge's Pizza is the second grab-and-go option. It serves 'za with topping combinations such as chicken, cheese, refried beans, jalapeños and red chile tomato sauce on the Texas Slinger, and pepperoni, ham, bacon, salami, meatballs and cheese on the Munson. Diners can also buy cheese and pepperoni pizza by the slice. (Pudge's Pizza is only open Thursday through Saturday.)
Where to drink and find nightlife
Surely you'll need something to wash down that grub. Texas Live has more than 20 bars stationed throughout the complex in its restaurants, common areas and patios.
If you're the mood for some friendly competition, head to the second floor of Sports and Social, where you can play arcade games, shuffleboard, bubble hockey, ping pong, foosball and video golf for a fee. Or play Skee-ball and "beer" pong (those cups are filled with water) for free.
And what's an entertainment district without a club? PBR Texas country bar offers a honky-tonk vibe with its large dance floor, two mechanical bulls and Coyote Ugly-inspired dancers in booty shorts and chaps. It's one of the larger spaces, with a capacity for 1,500 patrons.
Texas Live also hosts bands at its 5,000-person outdoor venue known as the Arlington Backyard. On opening weekend, alt-rock band the Toadies, country musician Kip Moore and indie rock band Bleachers performed there against the backdrop of AT&T Stadium. That's where you'll find Balcones Distilling serving award-winning whiskey from Waco. (The Balcones bar is open Thursday through Sunday.)
Texas Live's beer taps predominantly feature popular brands including Miller Lite, Coors Banquet and Blue Moon, as well as bolder styles from Revolver Brewing. Most bars are also stocked with liquor. And if you buy a beverage at one, you're free to take it anywhere else in the venue.
That's a lot to eat and drink your way through, baseball fans. You might take need to take more than one swing at it.
Texas Live by the numbers
If you need proof of how big this place is, consider these figures. Texas Live...
- Inhabits 200,000 square feet of real estate
- Can hold more than 10,000 patrons
- Employs more than 1,000 people
- Has 130 TVs for game day sports watching
- Serves drinks from 20-plus bars
- Include 12 patios and balconies
Texas Live is open Sunday through Thursday 11 a.m. to midnight, and Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Hours of operation at some bars and restaurants vary. Visit texas-live.com for more information.