- Arlington, Texas, asking voters to subsidize the venue
- Team swaps retractable-roof ballpark for 22-year-old stadium
The 22-year-old stadium that former President George W. Bush built for the Texas Rangers would be replaced under a deal Arlington’s city council approved to subsidize a $1 billion, retractable-roof venue for the Major League Baseball team.
City leaders unanimously endorsed a partnership with the team Tuesday to build the stadium and surrounding entertainment district in the suburb west of Dallas, which is home to the Rangers and the National Football League’s Dallas Cowboys. It would replace Globe Life Park, which opened to much fanfare as one of the first throwback-style stadiums in 1994, when Bush was a co-owner of the baseball team.
Arlington’s voters will be asked in November to extend sales, car and hotel taxes they approved to build AT&T Stadium for the Dallas Cowboys to cover half the cost of the new one, which will be capped at $500 million for the city. Arlington said last week that it would be paying off the debt for the Cowboys 14 years ahead of schedule, thanks to higher-than-expected collections of the tax.
“This proactive effort will keep the Texas Rangers in Arlington, which is something our citizens have overwhelmingly told our city council they want,” Mayor Jeff Williams said in a statement. “We love the Rangers and we want them here in Arlington for generations to come.”
State and local governments for decades have used taxpayer money to help build professional sports venues, seeking to lure teams from elsewhere or keep hometown ones from picking up stakes. They’re typically seen as a way to spur the local economy, create jobs and attract tourists. Such benefits are more noticeable to smaller cities, according to a report earlier this year from Moody’s Investors Service.
Arlington, with some 388,000 residents, announced the agreement soon after reports that Dallas was considering bidding for the team. Arlington said it considers the stadium an important revenue generator for the city and surrounding Tarrant County, with the new venue expected to produce a $77.5 million per-year economic boost.
The proposed stadium, which would seat about 38,000, would include a retractable roof that would allow for climate control on hot summer days or play to continue despite thunder storms. The team and the city are still discussing other options for Globe Life Park, including an office development, park space and parking.
The city’s voters in 1991 approved by a two-to-one margin the subsidies for the $191 million baseball stadium, which was originally named The Ballpark in Arlington. The 48,000-seat arena has hosted two World Series for the team.
“We are committed to building a world-class facility which will provide the best possible experience for our fans,” Rangers co-chairman Ray Davis said in a statement.