As the executive vice president of business operations for the Texas Rangers, Rob Matwick now plays a primary role in the development and construction of Globe Life Field and an adjoining complex called Texas Live!—additions to the Entertainment District that he hopes will raise Arlington’s profile.
Texas Rangers owner Ray Davis has said that the team will start playing in the $1.1 billion park no later than 2021. Matwick has a lot of work to do before then.
His love of baseball began well before the Rangers. One of his favorite childhood memories was seeing his hometown Pittsburgh Pirates play a home game at Forbes Field against the Houston Astros, for whom he’d later work. Matwick graduated from the University of South Carolina at Aiken and went on to earn a master’s degree in mass communications from the University of South Carolina’s flagship campus in Columbia. His first, post-grad school stint was as the sports information director at Wichita State University. In September 1985, he received a call from Dick Wagner, the Astros’ then president.
Matwick packed up and left for Houston, where he worked in media relations and became friends with Astros pitcher Nolan Ryan. He’d work there until 2006, before leaving to take a job as vice president of communications for the Detroit Tigers.
Matwick kept in touch with Ryan, who became president of the Rangers in 2008. Shortly thereafter, he hired Matwick as executive vice president of ballpark operations. In 2014, Matwick was promoted to his current role. In addition to overseeing day-to-day facility tasks like customer service and parking, his job has expanded to include oversight of communications, finance, and general business operations.
From the outset, Matwick has been involved in the development of Globe Life Field and Texas Live!, a partnership with The Cordish Cos. projected to cost $250 million. Besides liaising with the city of Arlington and Cordish Cos., he worked on the “Vote Yes!” campaign, aimed at convincing Arlington residents to approve public funding for the new ballpark. The deal called for the issuance of $500 million in bonds paid over 30 years via sales, hotel, and car rental taxes, and also included ticket and parking taxes. At the time, plenty of people hoped that the Texas Rangers would move somewhere in downtown Dallas. In November 2016, though, 60 percent of Arlington citizens voted in favor of the new ballpark. The Rangers’ current stadium, Globe Life Park, is less than 25 years old.
“I found out very early in my tenure that there was always a hope and aspiration that development would occur,” Matwick says. “The expectation has been here all along.”
“We want to be good citizens and bring as many guests as possible to the entertainment district. We think this will be game-changing.”
Globe Life Field will be 1.7 million square feet with a capacity of approximately 40,000. Its most-hyped feature is its retractable roof, which will serve to combat Texas’s more unfavorable weather conditions and create a venue that can be used year-round. The new stadium also will offer better seating and more club space, all with a “higher level of service and better mix of amenities,” Matwick says.
Globe Life Field is a short walk from Texas Live! and close to AT&T Stadium, where the Dallas Cowboys play.
“We want to be good citizens and bring as many guests as possible to the Entertainment District,” Matwick says. “We think this will be game-changing.”
The developer estimates that Texas Live! will create 3,025 jobs (1,025 of which will be permanent) and projects the complex will generate $100 million in annual economic output. Texas Live! tenants include Revolver Brewing Co., Lockhart Smokehouse, and a restaurant concept by Guy Fieri. The project will comprise more than 500,000 square feet.
In January of this year, the Texas Rangers announced they’d partnered with the city of Arlington to create a club-branded golf course. Matwick says that the goal is to create a destination in the city that will attract more tourists and compel them to stay longer—as well as give fans a place to go for dining and entertainment before and after a game. He points to the Power & Light District in Kansas City, also developed by The Cordish Cos., as a good example of what’s possible.
“They’ve moved into office and residential space,” Matwick says. “You have people living in downtown Kansas City in areas that were vacant for decades. We’d like to build that kind of density here.”
That’s a long way off. In the meantime, Matwick’s days are a blur of conference calls and meetings with architects and construction companies. The new ballpark had its fair share of critics, but one of the results of this deal and of Matwick’s work: The Texas Rangers will stay in Arlington until at least 2054.