ARLINGTON -- A crew will fence off Nolan Ryan Expressway on Thursday, permanently closing the street from Randol Mill Road to just north of parking lot entrance B7.

It's a relatively short distance and should not have a significant impact on traffic, but it will be the first step in the creation of a new retractable roof ballpark for the Texas Rangers.

Nolan Ryan Expressway currently leads fans to parking lots south of Globe Life Park, the same lots where the new park will sit by 2021. Along with the road closure, Parking Lot A and a section of Parking Lot B will also be closed.

For fans like Anthony Rodriguez, even those empty lots hold a sentimental value.

“We have been tailgating out here once a year for at least the past four or five years now,” he said on Wednesday night while grilling burgers and making guacamole ahead of the Rangers series finale with Seattle. “We are always in this same exact spot and it works out perfectly. Seeing fans walk in, them smelling the food, that camaraderie that we have.”

Closing the road and the parking lots will make way for utility work to begin. The first phase of that work will take three to four months and includes relocating a sanitary sewer line. More closures will take place in September when excavation for the new park begins.

Fans will notice the street and lot closures when the Rangers return to Arlington to begin a home stand on August 11.

Construction has already begun on the Texas Live! project, an entertainment and dining attraction planned even before Arlington voters approved the new ballpark. Texas Live! is scheduled to open for the 2018 season.

According to stadium renderings, the closed portion of Nolan Ryan Expressway will become a plaza, running between Texas Live! and left field of the new ballpark.