Arlington

Rangers would pay bulk of new stadium cost, Arlington chamber says

The design for a new ballpark would include a retractable roof for climate control and shelter for fans during the hot summer months as well as provide a premiere baseball experience.
The design for a new ballpark would include a retractable roof for climate control and shelter for fans during the hot summer months as well as provide a premiere baseball experience. Courtesy photo

City taxpayers would pay less than a quarter of the $1 billion construction cost for a proposed retractable-roof stadium for the Texas Rangers, with other public funds coming from visitor spending, according to figures released Tuesday by the Arlington Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber’s calculations included projected revenues from hotel-occupancy, car-rental and sales taxes, financing costs and the annual $2 million rent that would be paid by the Rangers to the city. That brought the team’s share to 53 percent.

“The city of Arlington is making a wise investment,” said Michael Jacobson, the chamber’s president and CEO, adding that residents would pay about $230 million over that span. “We in the city of Arlington have to come up with 23 percent of the cost, and for that we get a $1 billion asset on our books.”

The new projections followed a WFAA/Channel 8 report Monday, which contended that the city could end up giving away much more than $500 million because of hundreds of millions in other revenue that would go to the Rangers. Also, on Sunday, a WFAA/Star-Telegram poll showed that voters are evenly split over the issue three weeks before Election Day — with 42 percent for and against the proposal.

Voters go to the polls Nov.8 to decide whether to commit as much as $500 million to the project by extending a half-cent tax, 2 percent hotel-motel tax and a 5 percent car-rental tax currently being used to pay down the city’s $175 million debt from construction of AT&T Stadium.

The WFAA report projected that the negotiated deal would cut the city out of $300 million in admission and parking taxes, $300 million in stadium naming rights and $75 million in seat licensing rights over a 30-year period. Interest costs would add about $500 million, bringing the total city tally to $1.675 billion over three decades.

Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams called the story’s assertions “total and utter nonsense” and “ridiculous.”

“The Rangers and visitors are going to pay for over 75 percent of this new ballpark,” Williams said. He also praised the financial framework that built A&T Stadium — Arlington residents ended up paying only 15 percent of it, he said — and Globe Life Park, which opened in 1994 and was paid off 10 years early.

While the report contends that the city could have kept some of those revenue sources, Williams said the Rangers will accept responsibility for operating and maintaining the facility.

And regarding naming rights, Williams said the city’s name will be prominently featured inside and outside the stadium, providing “a permanent advertisement.”

Some opponents, though, agreed with the TV report.

“I think it is very accurate,” said Faith Bussey, president of Citizens for a Better Arlington, which opposes the stadium deal. “It helps get the word out that this is the worst deal in the nation.”

Robert Cadwallader: 817-390-7186, @Kaddmann_ST

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