The opening of Texas Live! brought out thousands who joined the celebration of a public-private partnership achievement resulting in significant increases for Arlington’s burgeoning tourism industry.
It also, right on schedule, provided an opportunity for the community’s noisy but inconsequential naysayers to foment each other on why it all should have never happened.
These were the same voices that complained for years that there was no development around the ballpark which immediately morphs into repeated complaints about public funding for both the Rangers ballpark and the Cowboys stadium.
Never mind that both of those projects were approved by significant majorities in elections where voters had the final say on whether or not they would be built and partially funded with sales tax revenues.
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Let’s take a quick look at where we were just four years ago and what has happened since then that has resulted in the city’s greatest ever boom in economic development.
The Rangers lease was expiring and team owners were focused on how to deal with the loss of fans who weren’t showing up for games in the Texas heat wave that comes around every summer.
They concluded the solution to that problem was to build a new ballpark with a retractable roof to create an environment of comfort for their fans and raise attendance to levels consistent with the top drawing teams in all of baseball.
Immediately, Dallas political and business leaders began planning still another attempt to steal the team from Arlington.
Meanwhile there had been talk for several years about developing other entertainment, shopping, and dining venues around the ballpark. Included in that discussion was the idea of attracting a five-star hotel to accommodate visitors attending local events who were staying in accommodations outside the city.
If the Rangers moved away, none of that would ever happen and the city would have been left with an empty ballpark, no development, no hotel and little prospects for the future.
With a new mayor taking the reins of leadership in 2015, initiatives were launched that have resulted in what you see now taking place. All of it incentivized through public-private partnerships that are the structure of economic success for any community.
Arlington has now witnessed the opening of Texas Live! that has provided 2,000 construction jobs and 1,000 permanent jobs, a $150 million luxury hotel that will open early next year, and a $1.2 billion new ballpark that will debut on Opening Day in 2020.
The future for Arlington’s emergence as the entertainment capital of Texas never looked brighter or more promising. Talk surrounds of all this with optimism of it being the first phase of things to come.
Yet, criticism among those who seem to like virtually nothing about the city where all this is happening is illustrated by the current disdain expressed on social media and elsewhere.
They declare, without credible evidence to support their negative views, that none of this is of any real economic benefit to the community.
A few of these voices have done something that seems a common-sense solution to their despair. They’ve moved away yet inexplicably continue to express vitriol toward the community’s elected leaders and the projects they have helped to create.
There’s quite a contrast between their dark judgment and the declaration made at the opening ceremony for Texas Live! by one of the principals for the developer who has built successful venues like this in other cities around the country.
He said Arlington has no peer when it comes to seizing opportunities to make dreams of progress to the benefit of all come true.
Richard Greene is a former Arlington mayor, served as an appointee of President George W. Bush as regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency and lectures at UT Arlington.