If the presidential race isn’t incentive enough to go to the polls, Arlington residents have another reason: to decide the fate of the proposed $1 billion retractable-roof new home for the Texas Rangers.
The stadium proposition asks voters to extend the half-cent sales tax, 2 percent hotel-occupancy tax and 5 percent car-rental tax, currently funding the city’s half share of AT&T Stadium’s construction costs. The proposition also includes extending game ticket and parking surcharges, which the Cowboys are using now to help pay their debt. The Rangers would be next to use them.
City officials are working on a plan to restructure that remaining debt so some of those tax revenues can be redirected to starting construction on the new Rangers stadium.
Election Day is Nov. 8; but early voting starts runs through Friday. Check schedules, locations and other election information here.
Here are five things to know about the stadium before you vote:
1. City spends first
Although the proposed stadium’s cost is widely referred to as $1 billion, a table on the last page of the 51-page master agreement shows a preliminary cost of $907.9 million. If that ended up as the actual cost, would the city and Rangers save more than $50 million each? No. The agreement assures that $1 billion will be spent.
Here’s how: The city spends its $500 million first. The Rangers pay for the rest and are required to pay at least $500 million. If the stadium were to come in at less than $1 billion, the deal obligates the Rangers to cover the balance by spending it on other improvements around the stadium and the $250 million Texas Live! mixed-use complex
2. A long marriage
The deal could have the Rangers in a new stadium by the 2020 season, three years before the lease for Globe Life Park in Arlington expires. The master agreement effectively extends the current lease by 30 years, through the 2053 season.
3. No money figure on ballot
The ballot doesn’t give a dollar amount for how much money the city needs to fund its share of the stadium’s construction cost. No secret, though, it’s $500 million — matching the Rangers’ contribution outlined in the 50-50 partnership the City Council approved nearly six months ago.
Though opponents argued for including the tax cost, the Texas attorney general signed off on the proposed ballot language.
4. Why reinvent the wheel?
The ballpark ballot language virtually mirrors that of the 2004 proposition that won public funding for Cowboys Stadium, now AT&T Stadium. That ballot, too, was mum on numbers, but it included all the tax sources and same percentages as those on the current ballot.
5. Don’t forget your cap
In the 2004 election, the city’s contribution was capped at $325 million. That became a better investment when Cowboys owner Jerry Jones went shopping for accessories that raised the total cost to $1.2 billion. Arlington and the Rangers have a similar deal, in which the city’s share is capped and the Rangers agree to cover any cost overruns.