Arlington

Arlington stadium backers score lopsided lead in political donations

The Vote Yes! Keep the Rangers PAC raised $617,707, including $550,000 contributed by Texas Rangers organization.
The Vote Yes! Keep the Rangers PAC raised $617,707, including $550,000 contributed by Texas Rangers organization. rrodriguez@star-telegram.com

The opponents fighting the proposed $1 billion new stadium for the Texas Rangers have always cast their campaign as a David-vs.-Goliath match.

That metaphor appears fitting given the sheer political contributions revealed in new finance reports filed by both sides at the Tuesday deadline — just 30 days before the Nov. 8 election.

The Citizens for a Better Arlington political action committee reported raising $7,687.50 and spending $2,264.04 during the reporting period July 1 through Sept. 29.

Meanwhile, Vote Yes! Keep the Rangers PAC raised $617,707 — $550,000 contributed by Rangers organization — and spent $564,479.

The activists are in the final stretch of their election campaign as voters weigh whether the city should commit $500 million to help the Rangers build a retractable-roof stadium immediately south of Globe Life Park, the team’s current home.

Faith Bussey, president of the Citizens PAC and its Save Our Stadium campaign, said she wasn’t surprised by either campaigns’ fund-raising totals.

Former Arlington City Councilman Mel LeBlanc led the Save Our Stadium donors with a $2,001 contribution, topping the second largest, $2,000, sent in by “an older retired lady who just wanted to help,” Bussey said.

“The next step is to get out the vote and win the election,” she said.

Brian Mayes, the Vote Yes! campaign manager, said that even eliminating the Rangers’ contribution, his group would still be out raising the opponents.

“What’s really surprising is that despite the bluster of the ‘No’ side, they barely raised $7,000,” said Mayes. “It proves they’re having trouble gaining support in the community.”

Warren Norred, spokesman for the Citizens PAC, said the Rangers’s $550,000 contribution was an “easy investment,” considering the city would be putting up $500 million., or half the cost of the stadium.

“They stand to get 1,000 times that back,” Norred said. “Not too shabby.”

Vote Yes! filings showed that donations of $50 or less accounted for $3,625 of the contributions. The largest non-Rangers donations were $25,000 from Nehemiah Real Estate Advisers LLC, developer of the Viridian master-planned community and $10,000 from Moritz Partners LP.

Mayes said he’s pleased with the “small-dollar support coming in. A lot of $5 and $10 donations from people who want to keep the Rangers in Arlington.”

Mayes said Vote Yes! volunteers were expecting to install their 5,000th yard sign later Tuesday.

That’s a sticking point with opponents, who point out that the Rangers have never said publicly that they would bolt if they don’t get the stadium. However, city officials have said the Rangers made it clear to them that the team ultimately will have a climate-controlled stadium.

The Citizens PAC also contend the projected economic impact of a new stadium has been exaggerated.

Voters will decide if the city can extend a half-cent sales tax, 2 percent hotel-motel tax and 5 percent car-rental tax — revenues being applied to the city’s remaining $175 million debt on its share of AT&T Stadium’s construction — and redirect it to start building the new ballpark.

The filings report contributions and expenditures occurring from July 1 to Sept. 29. The campaigns also are required to file update reports on Oct. 31 and again on Jan. 17.

Robert Cadwallader: 817-390-7186, @Kaddmann_ST

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