More than 150 people gathered Wednesday in a parking lot outside Globe Life Park for the ceremonial groundbreaking of the $250 million Texas Live! entertainment complex, with hopes that it will be open in time for the 2018 baseball season.
Tom Grieve, the longtime Rangers broadcaster who also served a stint as the team’s general manager, said the 200,000-square-foot venue, which will include a luxury 300-room high-rise hotel plus 35,000 square feet of meeting/convention space, will spark the long-awaited development promised when the Rangers opened the ballpark in 1994.
“This dynamic world-class project will cement Arlington as the premiere sports, entertainment and hospitality destination in the country for decades to come,” Grieve said, kicking off an hourlong lineup of speakers.
Officials said the construction of Texas Live!, launching as the baseball season begins next week, will bring 3,000 jobs and more than 3 million new visitors to Arlington, adding to the city’s latest tally of 14 million annual tourists.
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Texas Live!, being developed by the Rangers and The Cordish Cos., will be located between Globe Life Park and the site for the $1 billion retractable-roof stadium that will be built for the Rangers. That new stadium is expected to open for the 2020 baseball season.
The ceremony comes five months after officials said construction had begun on the 7-acre site in Parking Lot A, across Randol Mill Road from Globe Life’s southwest corner. But on Wednesday, it still looked like a parking lot.
Rob Matwick, the Rangers’ vice president of business operations, said some delays in the hotel side of the project “slowed us from where we were in October.”
“But today we’re in the ground,” he said in an interview after the ceremony. “As you can see, the construction equipment is here. We’re ready to get going and now start to see vertical progress. Fans, as they come to Opening Day and all season long, will be able to watch the progress with us.”
The construction consumes a significant portion of Lot A just as Opening Day traffic arrives Monday. The Rangers are making arrangements to meet short-term parking needs, said spokesman John Blake.
Two new spaces are being added — Lot R , south of Cowboy Way, and Lot S, just east of Magic Mile Street. Also, at Lot J, north across Randol Mill Road from Texas Live!, the islands have been replaced with 300 additional parking spaces — mostly for season ticket holders but some for cash parking, Blake said.
More details on parking solutions will be released Thursday, Blake said.
Longer range, the ballclub is working on a plan to replace the part of Lot B where construction on the new stadium could begin in late summer, Blake said.
Also at the ceremony, the Rangers and Cordish announced that a national-local tandem of companies will build Texas Live! — Manhattan Construction Co. and Arlington-based Con-Real, a minority-owned business.
“That partnership is I think emblematic of what we talked about today in terms of incorporating minority, small businesses here in Arlington, when possible, into the project,” Matwick said.
Texas Live! venues
The Rangers have been making periodic announcements as new tenants sign deals. So far, those venues are:
▪ A 17,000-square-foot Professional Bull Riders-themed country bar with two mechanical bulls.
▪ A Lockhart Smokehouse barbecue restaurant from the popular Dallas-based family restaurateurs.
▪ A themed restaurant by TV chef Guy Fiery
▪ An eatery and brewery by Granbury-based Revolver Brewing
The large, original venues are:
▪ Rangers Republic, the “ultimate fan clubhouse” featuring a two-level, 30,000-square-foot family dining and entertainment venue.
▪ Live! Arena, the 35,000-square-foot “living room” of Texas Live!, featuring an outdoor beer garden and a concert stage.
▪ Arlington Backyard, an outdoor event pavilion with a capacity of 5,000 for hosting cultural activities, art shows, regional and national concerts and other events.