Despite scoring last place in WalletHub's "most recreational cities" list, Irving nabbed first place for "ball diamonds per capita." Trinity View Park has 13 youth and adult baseball and softball fields, just one of the city's many recreational offerings.

Despite scoring last place in WalletHub's "most recreational cities" list, Irving nabbed first place for "ball diamonds per capita." Trinity View Park has 13 youth and adult baseball and softball fields, just one of the city's many recreational offerings.

G.J. McCarthy/The Dallas Morning News

A recently-released WalletHub study claims that Irving is the worst city in the country for recreation in a list of the nation's 100 largest cities. Hear 'em out.

The study looked at 44 metrics related to public spaces and recreational activities, including living costs, park quality, weather and accessibility of entertainment.

Each one of the metrics was given a weight point out of 100. Public beaches per capita has the lowest weight, for which Irving got -- no shockers here -- a score of 0. Weather was given the greatest weight, accounting for 10 points out of the total 100 a city can earn. Here, Irving came in 76th place -- though, interestingly, border city Fort Worth clocked in at 34.

Maura Gast, the executive director of  the Irving Convention & Visitors Bureau, found this calculation "fascinating," saying the weather rankings for Dallas-Fort Worth area cities were "all over the map." Although this is only part of the overall calculation,  Gast wondered, "how does something like that skew the overall rating?" Fair question, considering weather accounted for 10 percent of the total recreation score. 

Jill Gonzalez, a WalletHub analyst, said via email that the methodology for the recreation study was determined "in conjunctions with academic professors in the field, as well as previous reports on recreation." 

Most of the 44 categories were weighted from 1.45 to 3.64 points, measuring everything from park playgrounds per capita (Irving made it into the top half there, ranking at 49) to music venues per capita (where Irving, unfortunately, found itself at the very bottom). More on that in a sec.

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For most categories calculated per capita, “the square root of the population was used to calculate the population size in order to avoid overcompensating for minor differences across cities,” the study says. Confused yet? Basically, it means that if City A is four times as big as City B and City A has twice as many park playgrounds, for example, as City B, the two cities will get the same score in that category. 

Contrary to WalletHub's findings, Irving City Manager Chris Hillman says things are on the up and up for the city's recreational options. He cited the $180 million Irving Music Factory currently being built, which will include the Pavilion, "one of the most unique concert halls in the country, as well as dining options and an Alamo Drafthouse Cinema," Hillman said via email. He went on to mention the city's other recreational facilities, including 80 parks, 74 playgrounds, 34 miles of walking, jogging and biking trails, eight recreation centers, two water parks and three seasonal pools, "all to keep the city moving, shaking and entertained 365 days a year."

Carolyn Lake is one of Irving's outdoor recreation offerings, where activities like May's Dragon Boat Race are held.

Carolyn Lake is one of Irving's outdoor recreation offerings, where activities like May's Dragon Boat Race are held.

Michael Ainsworth/Special Contributor

Gast agreed, saying that while she doesn't want to see Irving with a low ranking on such a list, she's confident that Irving's dismal No. 100 spot would rise if the study were replicated in a year, considering all the recreation and entertainment projects currently in the works. Though she says the city currently has a "beautiful parks and rec system," she mentioned that the new mayor, Rick Stopfer, is committed to improving the parks. "I think that bodes well for us, including the [other] projects that are underway. I think it's an important sign that the city values those assets and will continue to do so," Gast says.  

And for now, she's perfectly happy with life in Irving. 

"This is such an easy place to be," Gast says. "Everything we want is here or near ... a slice of the world is here, so you've got a mosaic of cultures here, a mosaic of foods, restaurant experiences, a mosaic of entertainment experiences, of art experience. It's accessible geographically, but it's also accessible from an affordability standpoint."

And the study wasn't all bad news for Irving: The city did come in first in ball diamonds and water parks per capita. 

What exactly are "ball diamonds," you may ask? The study doesn't define the cryptically-named category, so we can only assume it refers to baseball and softball parks, of which Irving has several, including 13 for both children and adults at Trinity View Park. 

The city also made it into the top 20 for some other categories, including movie theaters per capita, restaurant meal costs, and share of designated parkland areas.

Naturally, other Texas cities also made the list, with a variety of outcomes. Garland didn’t do too much better, coming in at No. 89, while El Paso did the best in the state with a ranking of 25. Dallas, meanwhile, came in almost in the middle, ranked at 57.

The Irving Music Factory is set to open Labor Day weekend this year, according to Maura Gast, and will offer new options for recreation and entertainment, including a concert hall and movie theater. 

The Irving Music Factory is set to open Labor Day weekend this year, according to Maura Gast, and will offer new options for recreation and entertainment, including a concert hall and movie theater. 

Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News
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