Arlington raises the ante for new Rangers ballpark


The city and the Texas Rangers announce a $200 million hotel project called Texas Live! during a press conference in Arlington on Wednesday.
The city and the Texas Rangers announce a $200 million hotel project called Texas Live! during a press conference in Arlington on Wednesday. Star-Telegram

Arlington has a long way to go before it can say it will still be the home of the Texas Rangers after the baseball team’s lease on Globe Life Park expires in 2023.

But the city that’s famously “nobody’s damn suburb” has sharply raised the ante for anybody else who wants to compete for the team.

By agreeing this week to put up $50 million cash immediately and pledging generous future tax breaks for a hotel/entertainment complex across the street from the current ballpark, Arlington’s leaders have ensured that competitors must offer team owners a package that’s similarly enhanced, not just a place to play 81 games a year.

Keeping the Rangers is important for Arlington, as is developing the long-envisioned entertainment district surrounding Globe Life Park and AT&T Stadium, where the Dallas Cowboys play.

Dallas wants the Rangers. Nobody in Big D is denying it. Any major city would like to be the home of a Major League Baseball franchise.

The Rangers are not likely to stay in Globe Life Park. It’s a classy, traditional, open-air baseball field, but it’s just too hot and sunny for many fans during the summer months, the heart of the baseball season.

The team will want a place with a retractable roof. That means building a new home ballpark.

Conveniently, there’s plenty of room for a new park just across East Randol Mill Road from Globe Life Park. The land is already controlled by Arlington and the owners of the Rangers.

Just as conveniently, that’s just across Nolan Ryan Expressway from the planned $200 million hotel/entertainment complex announced this week.

One document approved by the Arlington City Council says “one or more” of the team’s owners intends to “participate financially” in development of the hotel/entertainment project.

There’s no figure yet for how much a new Rangers ballpark would cost. Once you put a roof on it, you’re creating a venue that could be used year-round for many entertainment events and other gatherings.

Where would the money come from, besides from the team?

Arlington could devote the  1/4 -cent left on its available sales tax rate, which would bring in more than $13 million a year.

The city expects to pay off its debt on AT&T Stadium in about 2025, not long after the Rangers Globe Life Park lease expires.

Some Arlington city officials say they’d like to see Tarrant County help with the cost of a new ballpark.

There are plenty of details to be worked out. Arlington is making it interesting.