ARLINGTON — City leaders envision an entertainment district that offers visitors more than just home runs, touchdowns and thrill rides.That’s why Arlington has set aside $200,000 for the first of several planned sculptures to be installed between Cowboys Stadium and the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.Up to 15 permanent sculptures are envisioned for the Richard Greene and Robert Cluck linear parks along Johnson Creek. The public art, which will memorialize significant events and people in the entertainment district, would not only be an added amenity for park users but also would serve as an additional arts and culture destination for the millions of visitors who come to Arlington, officials said.“This is a great opportunity for Arlington to continue growing the creative community. Artistic and cultural tourism experiences are one of the things that keeps groups interested in a city and keeps them coming back,” said Ronnie Price, Experience Arlington president.The themed sculptures could represent events such as Super Bowl XLV, which was held at Cowboys Stadium in 2011, the Texas Rangers’ back-to-back American League pennants and even the community spirit needed for Arlington residents to support construction of both ballparks.The idea to create a sports-themed sculpture trail came up in 2010 during the city’s planning for the Super Bowl.“People will be able to look back and see some of the significant events that have happened in Arlington and celebrate the efforts of the community and what we have been able to achieve in Arlington through sports and entertainment,” parks Assistant Director Gary Packan said.The first sculpture, which has not yet been selected, is expected to be unveiled next March during the annual Art on the Greene art show, Packan said. A committee, which includes representatives from the Parks and Recreation Department, Dallas Cowboys, Texas Rangers, the University of Texas at Arlington and the Convention & Visitors Bureau, is expected to select a finalist by September from the 14 artists from across the country who submitted proposals.Arlington also hopes to bring in additional sculptures on a rotating basis through a public art lease program that could start as early as next year, depending on funding availability, Packan said. Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck said the entertainment district would not be as successful and as vital to the city economically had voters not backed funding both stadiums.“It wouldn’t be here if the citizens hadn’t supported it. It has a huge economic impact. Every time there is a ballgame or Six Flags puts rides up, the city makes money off sales taxes,” said Cluck, adding that Arlington brought in a record amount of sales taxes last year.
Susan Schrock, 817-390-7639 Twitter: @susanschrock