Add barbecue smoke to the aromas you can expect at the $250 million Texas Live! entertainment complex when it opens with the 2018 baseball season.
The Texas Rangers announced Wednesday that Lockhart Smokehouse, a popular Central Texas-style barbecue restaurant, will set up shop in the complex. It marks the third business to sign on to the mixed-use development, following TV chef Guy Fieri and a brewery from Granbury-based Revolver Brewing. There will also be three larger operations: Rangers Republic, Live! Arena and Arlington Backyard.
“We have baseball and barbecue in the air,” Rob Matwick, Rangers’ executive vice president for business operations, told about 50 media representatives and officials of the Rangers and the developer, Baltimore-based Cordish Cos.
Lockhart co-owner Jill Bergus, who had a slab of brisket — smoked for 16 hours — brought to the press conference, said that she initially didn’t jump at the opportunity to partner with Texas Live!
“I said, ‘I don’t know,’ but they kept coming back,” said Bergus, who runs the restaurants with her husband, Jeff Bergus. “Basically, what I feel separates us is what we can control and what we can keep our hands on qualitywise. So when they first approached us, we weren’t entirely ready to think about expanding yet.”
But ultimately Texas Live! was too good an opportunity to pass up, she said. “We realized we’ll be in partnership with the Rangers and across the street from AT&T Stadium. It’s the perfect place for great Texas barbecue.”
Cordish Cos., a family-owned company for more than a century, was attracted to the Lockhart Smokehouse story, said Cari Furman, the company’s communications manager.
“The history was really special to us and was a perfect fit for the project,” she said.
Although Lockhart Smokehouse is only 6 years old, its roots go back to 1948 when Jill Bergus’ grandfather, Edgar “Smitty” Schmidt, bought Kreuz Market in Lockhart and ran it for more than 40 years. She said she collaborated with her cousin, Keith Schmidt, who now owns the Kreuz Markets in Lockhart and Bryan, to bring the Lockhart barbecue tradition to North Texas.
Bergus said her cousin also makes the sausage they serve. “The sausage is a 100-year-old recipe,” she said.
Construction on the sports/entertainment complex began in October on 7 acres next to Globe Life Park, near the site of the voter-approved $1 billion retractable-roof stadium that will be built for the Rangers. It is set to open in April 2018, while a 300-bed high-rise hotel and 35,000 square feet of convention facilities are planned to open later that year.
Cordish has built similar complexes across the country. Last month, the Rangers announced the team had hired architect HKS to design its new stadium. The Dallas-based firm also was involved in designing AT&T Stadium and Globe Life Park.
Arlington voters green-lighted the new stadium Nov. 8 by overwhelmingly approving the extension of a half-cent sales tax, 2 percent hotel-occupancy tax and 5 percent car-rental tax that are now paying the city’s share of AT&T Stadium construction debt.
Cordish and the Rangers say Texas Live! will have three major venues:
▪ Rangers Republic will be the “ultimate fan clubhouse” to watch home and away games, featuring a two-level, 30,000-square-foot family dining and entertainment venue.
▪ Live! Arena will be the 35,000-square-foot “living room” of Texas Live!, giving fans “one of the best sports-viewing experiences imaginable.” A 10,000-square-foot outdoor beer garden and a concert stage are among the features.
▪ Arlington Backyard will be an outdoor event pavilion with a capacity of 5,000 that aims to host cultural activities, art shows, regional and national concerts, and other events.
This report contains information from the Star-Telegram archives.