It’s the season for thankfulness — and for LGBGTQIA fans of the Texas Rangers, that thankfulness is at best mixed.
Many of us are happy that the Texas Rangers have, after 50+ years, finally won a World Series. But at the same time, there is a continuing dissatisfaction that the Rangers are the only Major League Baseball team to have never held a team-sponsored Pride Night. But I believe that the World Series victory will hasten the day when that time comes.
A couple of weeks ago, my boyfriend and I woke up at 5 a.m. so we could get a good spot to watch the victory parade for the 2023 World Series champion Texas Rangers. According to the Arlington Fire Department, we were part of a crowd of up to 700,000 people.
If you take the latest numbers from the Pew Institute on the size of the LGBTQIA population (7% of Americans identify as LGB and 1.6% as transgender or nonbinary), that could mean more than 65,000 of parade attendees could be considered part of the LGBTQIA umbrella. That’s a sizable chunk of the population that could potentially attend a well-marketed Pride game similar to what the Dallas Mavericks or Dallas Stars have done in their respective sports.
It’s hard to argue against a Pride Night when you look at numbers like this. But based on the conversations I have had with Rangers officials over several years, these numbers aren’t persuasive with people at the highest levels of the team. And based on other chats over several years with people at Major League Baseball, they are not going to lean on the team to make a Pride Night happen. It feels a little like loving someone who doesn’t love you back.
A concern some at the Rangers have had about holding a Pride Night is that it might affect attendance and ticket sales. Well, winning a World Series combined with a relatively new stadium changes that equation. The Rangers saw a boost in season ticket sales in the early 2010s when the team first appeared in the World Series.
But look what happened in 2022. Reaching the World Series last year helped the Philadelphia Phillies to a 50% jump in the size of the season ticket base. Scheduling a Pride Night during the 2024 season won’t make a negative dent in the Rangers’ base. And it shouldn’t have an impact on the bottom line for the team, either. It was a prudent investment for Rangers ownership to buy the team in 2010. Back then, the estimated value was $593 million. Current estimates today place the estimated value around $2.23 billion; up nearly 9% since 2022.
Holding a Pride Night should be the easiest thing in the world for the Rangers. Although I wish the team was more vocal about what they have done for the community. The Rangers were a major sponsor for the 2022 Gay Softball World Series, held in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The Rangers and their foundation have donated merchandise and tickets to a variety of nonprofits as items for charity auctions.
Rangers employees have volunteered at LGBTQIA nonprofits, including my employer, and signed on to support events like GLAAD’s Spirit Day anti-bullying campaign. At the urging of the Center, the Rangers amended their employment policy to specifically protect people based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. That’s significant given the increase in anti-LGBTQIA rhetoric from many different places.
My hope is that when spring training rolls around in March, the national media that questions team owners if the Rangers will repeat as World Series champions should also ask about the lack of a Pride Night.
And the same thing should also happen when media come to town in June to do stories on the 2024 All Star Game, to be hosted by the Rangers in July 2024. Current Rangers season ticket holders — and prospective ones who are excited to jump on the Rangers bandwagon because they’ve won a World Series — should also be asking questions about the lack of a Pride Night. Don’t just settle for a cut-and-dried anodyne PR statement delivered without attribution. Make them own their reasoning — whatever it really is.
Rafael McDonnell is senior advocacy, policy, and communications manager for Resource Center, the LGBTQIA community center serving the greater Dallas area. A lifelong baseball fan, he and his boyfriend have seen a home game in all 30 MLB ballparks. He can be reached on X (formerly Twitter) or via the Resource Center.