It’s time to celebrate in Arlington!
Time for whatever is the City Hall equivalent of high fives after a home run clears the bases and gives the home team a decisive lead. Maybe even for popping champagne corks in the City Hall locker room.
And it’s time for congratulating the Texas Rangers for extending what co-chairman Ray Davis called “a great partnership for 45 years” with a decision to stay in Arlington for almost another 38 years — at least.
Arlington has been the home of the Rangers since 1971, and Friday’s announcement of plans for a new, retractable-roof, air-conditioned stadium makes it clear that if Arlington has anything to say about it, the team will never leave.
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Of course, there are sobering parts of this celebratory tale. We know the new ballpark and its related infrastructure will cost around $1 billion, to be split evenly between the city and the Rangers.
The Rangers will be obligated to pay for any cost overruns.
City officials say there’ll be no new taxes or increase in tax rates to pay Arlington’s $500 million share.
If voters agree in an election expected to be called for Nov. 8, the city will pay for its share with proceeds from the half-cent sales tax, 2 percent hotel occupancy tax and 5 percent car rental tax that’s currently paying off the rest of its $298 million debt incurred in 2004 for AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys.
The rub is that the AT&T Stadium debt isn’t paid off yet. Although Arlington expects to pay it off much sooner than its 2028 due date, the Rangers contemplate starting construction on the new ballpark as soon as next year and to start playing in the new facility no later than the 2021 baseball season.
Documents released by the city Friday said the Nov. 8 election “would provide for funding mechanisms to provide the public portion of financing for construction of a new ballpark and the payoff of the AT&T Stadium debt.”
The City Council has until August to put together all of the specifics and call the election.
That will be the deadline for the last of the financial details. Then will come selling voters on those details.
Fans shouldn’t expect any of this to be free. The Rangers plan “user fees” to pay their construction costs, which means additional charges for admission tickets, parking and seat licenses.
Still, it’s celebration time.