Arlington

Rangers delay construction of Texas Live! project near ballpark

Texas Rangers fans walk through Lot A on their way to a game Wednesday in Arlington. The baseball club plans to convert seven acres of Lot A into a Texas Live! development, including pubs and restaurants, but hasn’t yet begun construction. (Wednesday, May 11, 2016)
Texas Rangers fans walk through Lot A on their way to a game Wednesday in Arlington. The baseball club plans to convert seven acres of Lot A into a Texas Live! development, including pubs and restaurants, but hasn’t yet begun construction. (Wednesday, May 11, 2016) Star-Telegram

Construction of the new entertainment complex known as Texas Live! next to the Rangers’ ballpark has been pushed back to the fall, several months later than planned.

But delaying the work will allow officials at the baseball club and its development partners to build a 300-room hotel simultaneously with the 7 acres of pubs, restaurants and music venues that will go up across from the first-base entrance at Globe Life Park.

The original plan called for construction of the eateries and watering holes to begin by mid-May, but for development of the hotel to take place at a later date.

The Rangers would not have made that kind of investment with the city if they didn't have a strong interest in maintaining their presence in Arlington.

Arlington Councilman Jimmy Bennett

The Rangers and lead developer Cordish Companies of Maryland, who are working together on the project, have received approvals for lucrative state and local tax incentives for the hotel — including refunds of hotel, sales and property taxes — so they can begin work on everything at once, a baseball club official said.

“Back when we first did the agreement [with the city of Arlington] for Texas Live!, there were some related hotel issues. But the good news is, all those issues are behind us now,” said Rob Matwick, Rangers executive vice president of business operations. “Everything is moving forward. When we start construction, we want to have both the Texas Live! venue and the hotel going simultaneously.”

Ready by 2018

With the delay in construction, the Texas Live! restaurants, pubs and music venues likely won’t be open until the opening of the 2018 season, a year later that had been anticipated. The hotel likely will take two years to build, and therefore could be ready for guests by late 2018 — or at least in time for the 2019 baseball season.

The construction is slated for the southwest corner of Randol Mill Road and Nolan Ryan Expressway, catty-cornered from the first-base entrance to the ballpark. The development will take about 600 parking spaces of the Rangers’ Lot A, and will be a short walk from not only the ballpark but also AT&T Stadium, where the Dallas Cowboys play.

1,225 Number of jobs expected to be created by Texas Live! development

Until construction begins, all of Lot A is still available to baseball fans for season ticket and cash parking.

The total project is expected to cost $200 million, and it will closely resemble Ballpark Village in St. Louis, across the street from Busch Stadium. That venue features 7 acres of sports-themed entertainment, including a 40-foot Daktronics video board in a sports bar known as Fox Sports Midwest Live!, which features a stage for live music and is covered by a retractable roof.

Construction will soon begin on the Texas Live! project outside Globe Life Park in Arlington. The Rangers' development should be a lot like St. Louis Ballpark Village, which opened in 2014.

Seeking new lease

Arlington city officials have made no bones about their interest in keeping the Rangers after the baseball club’s lease on Globe Life Park expires in April 2024. The city’s $50 million investment in Texas Live! is widely considered as a way to sweeten the pot for the Rangers and show the baseball club that the city will do what’s necessary to keep the team they’ve hosted since 1972.

Arlington and club officials don’t like to talk about it, but there are grumblings that business and political leaders in Dallas might try to lure the Rangers away.

In addition to eateries, pubs, music venues and a hotel, the Texas Live! project includes a 35,000-square-foot Arlington Convention Center annex.

Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams, a civil engineer, said the Texas Live! project started in December, and the fact that construction documents are being prepared shows that it is moving at “light speed.” He added that the project is the beginning of a long-held dream of having entertainment in the area seven days a week, even when there isn't a ballgame being played.

“It has been the vision of our community for several decades to get development out there by the ballpark, and this is the beginning of development around our great anchors, Six Flags, Globe Life Park and AT&T Stadium,” Williams said. “It is important for our citizens to realize that this is a real deal, that they have brought in a contractor and developer to build it, and it's going to happen.”

At the same time, the project shows the Rangers are committed to staying put, another city official said.

“The Rangers would not have made that kind of investment with the city if they didn't have a strong interest in maintaining their presence in Arlington,” Arlington City Councilman Jimmy Bennett said. He added that while Texas Live! is not an ironclad guarantee the Rangers will stay, it demonstrates how they feel about the city.

“It will have a life beyond the lease with the Rangers,” he said. “They are making this investment with that in mind. It is not a guarantee, but it is a commitment to the future.”

Terms of tax breaks

The Texas Live! restaurants, bars and music venues are expected to cost about half the $200 million total. The city and baseball club have agreed to split the cost evenly, and the Arlington City Council in December approved spending $50 million for its share of the project.

The city’s $50 million share is considered an incentive grant, a spokeswoman said. The city recalled money from the Arlington Tomorrow Foundation to provide for the grant, and plans to replenish the funds over about 15 years, Susan Schrock said.

As for the roughly $100 million cost of the hotel, the Rangers and its development partners — together forming an entity known as Arlington Ballpark District Entertainment Block LLC — sought to receive numerous sales tax and hotel occupancy tax breaks at both the local and state level to offset the cost of the project.

The breaks include refunds of hotel occupancy tax, property tax, sales tax and mixed beverage tax for 30 years from the city, and hotel occupancy and sales tax for 10 years from the state, according to information on file at the state comptroller’s office.

The state comptroller’s office recently determined that the project is eligible for a refund of those taxes, said Kevin Lyons, a comptroller’s spokesman.

The precise dollar value of the tax breaks will depend on how many people book hotel room nights, eat meals, drink beverages and buy retail goods.

The rebates will include taxes collected at the hotel and at the entertainment complex, bars and restaurants, Schrock said.

Both the restaurant/bar venue and the hotel are expected to have brand names, but no naming rights or management specifics have been released. In St. Louis, the entertainment venue is dubbed Fox Sports Midwest Live!, in a naming rights deal with a regional television network.

Also in St. Louis, a 26-floor Hilton hotel is located across the street from Fox Sports Midwest Live!, but it was built before the city’s Ballpark Village Development.

In Arlington, the Rangers play many of their televised games on Fox Sports Southwest.

Gordon Dickson: 817-390-7796, @gdickson

Max B. Baker: 817-390-7714, @MaxbakerBB

  Comments