The news from Arlington late Friday was stunning but overwhelmingly welcome: The City Council will discuss and vote at its Tuesday meeting on investing $50 million cash immediately and more in tax incentives later for a hotel/retail/entertainment/convention complex adjacent to Globe Life Park.
The planned $200 million development project includes the Texas Rangers baseball club and is viewed as an expansion of the nearby Arlington Convention Center.
The deal obviously has been in the works for months, given the amount of legal detail in information to be presented to the council.
And given the potential commitment — $50 million up-front from the Arlington Tomorrow Fund to be paid by Jan. 1 and an additional 30 years of alcohol, hotel, sales and property tax rebates — the council has a lot to absorb and explain to Arlington residents.
It’s a lot to ask in the short time available.
One document in the packet of information to be considered by the council states that one or more of the team’s owners will invest personally in the project.
A 41-page development agreement in the packet says the city’s financial participation is not a general obligation of the city’s taxpayers, and the city assumes no future responsibility for the project’s debts or bills.
The development plan has two parts:
▪ Project A includes a 300-room hotel, 100,000 square feet of restaurant, retail and entertainment space and 35,000 square feet of convention and event space, all to be built on the southwest corner of East Randol Mill Road and Nolan Ryan Expressway.
▪ Project B is another 750 hotel rooms and a 68,000-square-foot expansion of the existing convention center.
New construction in Arlington’s Entertainment District, the area surrounding Globe Life Park and AT&T Stadium, has long been a dream of city officials.
Much of that dream was tied to plans by former Rangers owner Tom Hicks and suffered a serious setback when he declared bankruptcy in 2010. But dreams like this don’t go away.
The new plan fits neatly with another top item on Arlington’s to-do list: keep the Rangers in the city when the team’s lease on Globe Life Park expires after the 2023 season.
A stake in the proposed new development could make them more inclined to stay.
Still, keeping the Rangers probably depends on further city investment in building a new ballpark or a roof of some sort over the current one.
Given all the pressures involved, Arlington council members probably feel tempted to give a quick “yes” to the new development plan. But they can’t do that without making residents comfortable with it first.