Bud Kennedy

Rangers stadium failing with minority voters, Democrats, women

Rangers fans Jason Bryant, Randall Meeks and Rick Hatley on a hot August day atop Globe Life Park.
Rangers fans Jason Bryant, Randall Meeks and Rick Hatley on a hot August day atop Globe Life Park. pmoseley@star-telegram.com

In an election dominated by Democratic women, Arlington leaders chose to appeal to neither.

So their $500 million proposal for a new Rangers domed stadium is on the ropes, hanging by a 50-50 thread maybe along with the team’s future in Arlington.

Dig into the fine print of the Star-Telegram/WFAA poll and the numbers reflect a campaign gone wrong:

In a partisan election where Democrats are the most likely voters, they oppose the stadium proposal 50-31 percent.

Nearly half of Arlington voters are people of color, but minority voters oppose the stadium 52-32 percent.

Women oppose the stadium 41-36 percent.

Who did Mayor Jeff Williams and the City Council think would be voting in this election?

City leaders counted on a big general election turnout to sweep the stadium to victory and neutralize any anti-establishment, libertarian or Tea Party backlash.

But while the campaign for AT&T Stadium featured Emmitt Smith and the Dallas Cowboys’ African-American players, the Rangers campaign has been less diverse than the team or its fans.

The city’s Republican mayor, Williams, has basically re-run the past successful stadium campaigns, basing the appeal on Arlington pride and potential economic development.

But in a year when both Republican and Democratic presidential contenders sharply denounced “corporate welfare,” it should not be a surprise that some voters are leery. The most leery are young voters, rejecting the proposal by 48-39 percent.

In one telling result, fans of the Rangers or other Major League Baseball teams oppose the proposal by 10 percent.

And 70 percent of voters consider the Rangers important to keep, but that number lagged among African-American voters.

Even though Rangers executives have said the team is interested in a domed stadium wherever one is built — if not Arlington. then probably Frisco or downtown Dallas — more than half of Rangers fans don’t think the team would ever leave.

But when The Dallas Morning News asked executives whether the team would leave if the stadium proposal fails, Rob Matwick responded only: “We have a lease through 2024.”

Bud Kennedy: 817-390-7538, bud@star-telegram.com, @BudKennedy. His column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

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