Playoff charges surprise Ballpark office tenants

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by CRAIG CIVALE

WFAA

Posted on October 4, 2010 at 10:00 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 6 at 12:10 AM

ARLINGTON — A number of businesses have offices at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. It's some of the most expensive property in North Texas, a prime location that provides a spectacular view from centerfield.

But Major League Baseball is telling those businesses they'll have to pay extra if they want to watch the Rangers take on the Tampa Bay Rays from their balconies on Saturday.

Some of the ballpark tenants were planning to bring in 70-80 friends and clients for the game, and tenants said they've never before had to pay to watch a game — until now.

David D'Aquin opened his jewelry business in the Ballpark office tower in 1994 so he could be closer to the game he loved. "I'm a baseball fan; that's why I moved in," he said.

D'Aquin said he's entertained clients at his office for more than 15 years. "There should be no bill," he said. "Someone needs to read the fine print from the Rangers and let MLB know this is not their jurisdiction."

But the bill landed on tenant desks Monday morning along with a memo saying that Major League Baseball now considers their balconies to be part of the stadium, and says anyone who watches a playoff game from that perch must have a ticket.

"It appears to be a big money grab by major league baseball," said office tenant Charles Elhoff, who asserts that those who have offices in the centerfield tower have never been charged for tickets before, including any of the playoff games in the 1990s or the when the Ballpark hosted the All-Star Game in 1995.

"You're normally planning on inviting some people up," he said. "Now — all of sudden — you'll have to write a significant check for the various people you invite up."

With dozens on the list, it could cost a few thousand dollars for each office just for Saturday's playoff game, and the price goes up the longer the Rangers are contending.

"You are guaranteed the space, but the space doesn't guarantee the view," said Rob Matwick, vice president of ballpark operations. "Baseball has said if people are going to watch the games, then they need to pay for them like everyone else."

But tenants says the move by Major League Baseball violates their lease. Some are discussing a challenge to the decision.

If you are hoping to watch the Rangers in action Saturday and don't have tickets yet, good luck. The team says they have only a few standing room only tickets available for $25 along with some "obstructed view" seats for $30 to $75.

E-mail ccivale@wfaa.com

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