“If you build it, they will come.” As COVID-19 reshaped sports for both players and patrons last year, the unprecedented 2020 World series brought us all to the “sports mecca of the South” and into a fan experience engineered to a whole new level.

Photo: The Cordish Companies

Developed by Major League Baseball team The Texas Rangers, The Cordish Companies, and the City of Arlington, Texas Live! and its flagship hotel, Live! by Loews is the first of its kind development in the United States to provide guests an immersive, upscale experience that blends sports and entertainment with first-class hospitality and amenities. Nestled between the Texas Rangers’ Globe Life Park and the Dallas Cowboys AT&T Stadium, the redevelopment, structurally engineered by McLaren Engineering Group, transformed a former surface parking lot into a dynamic $250 million, mixed-use fan paradise.

Divided into multiple entertainment zones, the two-level Texas Live! venue, designed using a combination of structural systems, is a 150,000-square-foot complex which includes two flexible performance spaces and eight restaurants. The composite steel floor framing maximizes structural spans and minimizes structural depth and steel tonnage. Below-grade areas were also designed using flat-plate concrete and constructed using techniques similar to “cut and cover” tunneling, allowing for underground corridors and back-of-house space. The structure is stabilized laterally with moment frames, maximizing flexibility and eliminating the need for structural walls or diagonal bracing.

Photo: The Cordish Companies

The indoor and outdoor venues have a roof system that spans the entire space. They take shape with 120-foot and 160-foot open web framing which creates an unobstructed, column-free interior. Custom fabricated roof trusses posed a challenge due to the accelerated construction schedule. As a result, McLaren worked closely with a leading supplier to customize the use of standard long-span joists to achieve the spans and load requirements of the performance venues while ultimately saving the owner time and money.

To combat Central Texas’ expansive clay soil, McLaren worked closely with the geotechnical engineer of record to implement moisture conditioning. The clay layer was treated before foundation work began and a cost-effective slab on grade was detailed to adjust to minor fluctuations in soil volume.

Another below-grade site challenge was the presence of an existing sanitary sewer line, critical to the City of Arlington, located in the middle of the proposed venue. The team worked closely with city engineers to mitigate the problem, engineering a foundation scheme that bridged over the line and placed foundation shafts a safe distance away.

Today, the ultimate fan experience includes an outdoor performance pavilion, Arlington Backyard which accommodates up to 4,000 people. The indoor Live! Arena, dubbed the “living room” of Texas Live!, is the central gathering place comprised of over 35,000 square feet of dining, sports and entertainment options. This area seats 1,200 people and is flexible for performances, with a restaurant venue, a two-level open atrium, a tiered mezzanine, a 65-by-20-foot HD video screen and a 60-foot tall glass curtain wall that provides prime views of AT&T Stadium.