ARLINGTON The Arlington NAACP announced its support Monday for a $1 billion stadium on the Nov. 8 election ballot after the organization was assured that hiring minority-owned contractors to build the stadium would be a top priority.
Alisa Simmons, president of the local branch of the civil rights organization, made the announcement during a news conference hosted by the Arlington Chamber of Commerce to urge voter support for the retractable-roof stadium.
“We have worked with the mayor and the Rangers to ensure a fair process of inclusion,” Simmons said. She added that she is confident the hiring process would follow “the same model” being used for the $250 million Texas Live! entertainment complex and luxury hotel project, set to start construction this week next to Globe Life Park in Arlington.
The Texas Live! contract requires that women- and minority-owned businesses get at least 25 percent of the construction contract work.
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Mayor Jeff Williams, a couple of hours after delivering a State of the City address to a sellout audience of 650 at the Arlington Convention Center, called the proposed stadium campaign “historic” because of its broad support.
“We have never had this many people step forward together behind a single initiative — ever,” he said, with Rangers manager Jeff Bannister, bench coach Steve Buechele and at least 75 businesspeople and chamber members crowded behind him.
Early voting started Monday. Arlington voters will decide whether to extend a half-cent sales tax, a 2 percent hotel-occupancy tax and a 5 percent car-rental tax that now is paying down the city’s remaining debt from AT&T Stadium’s construction costs.
The proposition also would extend game admission and parking surcharges, which helped pay the Cowboys’ share of the construction. The Rangers would be next to use those revenues.
Buechele, the former Rangers third baseman who raised his family in Arlington, said his support is a matter of pride — keeping Arlington the hometown of the Rangers.
“This is a relationship that goes all the way back to 1972,” he said. “It is a relationship that has flourished, and I want it to stay that way.”
Williams, chairman of the Vote Yes! Keep the Rangers political action committee — the only organized pro-stadium group — said every City Council member and school board trustee has not just supported the proposition but is “out working” for votes, as are “all of our living mayors.”
The Arlington Police Association, the Arlington Professional Fire Fighters Association, the Arlington Board of Realtors, Arlington Tea Party and Young Men for Arlington are among the organizations endorsing the measure, he said.
Simmons said the Arlington NAACP decided to grant its support after nine months of discussions with the city, the Rangers and the Cordish Cos., the ballclub’s developer of Texas Live! and the stadium, if voters OK it.
“At issue for us and the Regional Black Contractors Association is the economic impact for communities of color,” Simmons said. “It is our desire and determination to ensure our communities of color benefit economically — financially — from large-scale projects like Texas Live! and not be viewed as just consumers.”
In an interview afterward, Simmons said she expects the Rangers to announce soon that a black-owned construction firm will be granted “prime-level or joint-venture-level” status — getting a “seat at the table” on the Texas Live! project. She said that position has a say in many of the details, including hiring of subcontractors.
“Being at the table ensures that inclusiveness is not overlooked,” she said.
Robert Cadwallader: 817-390-7186, @Kaddmann_ST
LINK:Things to know about $1 billion stadium before you vote (3)