Richard Greene

Dallas media work against ballpark

The design for a new ballpark would include a retractable roof for climate control and shelter for fans during the hot summer months as well as provide a premiere baseball experience.
The design for a new ballpark would include a retractable roof for climate control and shelter for fans during the hot summer months as well as provide a premiere baseball experience.

The mainstream Dallas television and print media have been working overtime since the announcement that Arlington has developed a plan to keep the Texas Rangers in town.

WFAA/Channel 8 investigative reporter Brett Shipp baited the social media this past week with promises to expose some hidden element of the agreement to build a new ballpark.

He aired his sensationalized discoveries Tuesday.

In his predictable style once described in D Magazine as “shoddy” and “agenda-driven,” he didn't disappoint those looking to cheer still another of his hit pieces.

What he didn’t tell us was why he and Channel 8 would work so hard to try to convince Arlington voters to reject the plans to keep the Rangers in Arlington without any new taxes on residents.

While Shipp tried to make it look like taxpayers were funding more of the price of the new ballpark, the facts remain that the city’s portion of the cost will be 50 percent — or less if the Rangers decide to spend more on the project.

The city will use revenues from the half-penny sales tax — most of which is paid by people who don’t live in Arlington.

Other taxes paid by visitors staying in hotels and renting cars will further accelerate the repayment of the debt, for which the city has no liability.

The Rangers will use their revenues from fans attending baseball games, including optional surcharges on tickets and parking that would be paid by their customers.

We also have seen The Dallas Morning News producing something like 20 or more news and commentary articles finding fault with what Arlington will ask its voters to consider in November.

Much of what has been published is misleading, inaccurate and slanted.

Both of media giants use college professors, many of whom are trying to increase the sales of their books, to advance the myth that there is no economic benefit from professional sports franchises operating in any city.

I don’t think most people believe such twisted logic, as evidenced by the reality that more than 100 ballparks, stadiums and arenas have been built across the country during the past 20 years, almost all with some public funding.

Regardless of those individual experiences, Arlington’s formula of developing such public-private partnerships investing in the local economy has been a big winner, and now the opportunity to increase the return to the city has again come around.

So, why are the Dallas media so determined to campaign against the latest proposal?

For the answer, we need look no further than the proposed sites for a Rangers ballpark in downtown Dallas.

A couple of them are adjacent to or directly on the property owned by the Morning News and also occupied by WFAA.

The newspaper has announced that it is considering moving.

The television station is now owned by a Virginia company after decades as a sister company of the Morning News.

The station a few years ago added a news studio across downtown at Victory Park next to the American Airlines Center — a project partly funded by Dallas taxpayers.

Would the newspaper benefit from the Rangers moving onto or next to its real estate?

The answer to that question is obvious even to the casual observer.

It also could explain why they keep running stories trying to influence Arlington voters to turn down the deal to keep the Rangers.

They know this is the last chance to produce an outcome they and their powerful downtown friends started working on more than 25 years ago.

We can expect more of this self-serving journalism in the weeks ahead.

Richard Greene is a former Arlington mayor and served as an appointee of President George W. Bush as regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency.