Mac Engel

Rangers banking that cool new stadium is final attendance solution

A Ranger fan uses a bandana to block the sun during the Aug. 11 game against the Colorado Rockies at Globe Life Park in Arlington.
A Ranger fan uses a bandana to block the sun during the Aug. 11 game against the Colorado Rockies at Globe Life Park in Arlington. pmoseley@star-telegram.com

While this election cycle has managed to bring out the worst in so many of us, because we can’t agree on anything, we can all concur that we will be thrilled when this wreck reaches its merciful conclusion Tuesday.

Much to the delight of every single American — right, left, blue or red — we are now mere hours away from the end.

By late Tuesday night, we will know whether He or She will be our next President, and whether the city of Arlington approved a measure to keep a tax in place to help finance a new stadium for the Texas Rangers.

Arlington mayor Jeff Williams was unavailable for multiple interview requests, but his assistants said he would be after the election. I am sure that’s just a coincidence.

For the record, I am a big fan of the Rangers remaining in Arlington but a staunch opponent of public financing for places of business that are open less than one-third of the year, especially when a perfectly good space is in fine working order.

Arlington is committed to entertainment as its main high-profile revenue source, and no member of this city council wants on their political gravestone they let the Rangers move east.

It does sound like this measure will pass and the city and the club will open this $1 billion “joint” venture before 2021.

A poll of Arlington voters conducted by WFAA and the Star-Telegram found 42 percent of city voters for the deal, and 42 percent opposed.

Along with new multi-use Texas Live!, the whole area will be fun and cool, so just don’t complain about it when it’s done.

Because it will not be cheap and you are the one footing the bill. It’s your money and if you are OK with that, then bring on what must be the last time for the next 100 years that the Texas Rangers ask the city of Arlington for another thing.

If a new stadium does not fix the problem, nothing will.

Club officials are confident this vote will pass, but that it will not be by a landslide. There will be sweaty hands on this vote and nervous knots in stomachs Tuesday throughout Arlington.

There is no logical reason for a baseball team to move out of a baseball stadium that opened in 1994 and is in fantastic shape; but the club is understandably frustrated to fill in the many empty seats that plague this franchise during the painfully hot summer days of Texas.

The Rangers are banking that the ability to close the doors and blast the AC — arguably the single-most important thing we do as Texans — will provide the necessary comfort that they currently can’t offer to bring fans to the game.

With AC and a roof, the team can host a day game in summer secure in the knowledge that more than 15,000 people will brave the infernal conditions. I can’t blame a soul for passing on free tickets behind home plate during a day game in August, which sometimes the club is forced to play.

The Arlington mayor’s office claims, if the Rangers were to leave the city, it would be a $77 million impact on the economy.

The Rangers estimate they lose hundreds of thousands of potential fans every season because of our heat. The estimation is certainly plausible. How many times have you been deterred from attending a game because your face feels as if it might melt off?

A new stadium will make club owners Ray Davis and Bob Simpson even wealthier, and this stadium deal is a cash grab, but we already knew that. That’s every team in every city.

Combined with Texas Live! — which will feature an array of bars, restaurants and hotel/convention space across the street from the new ball yard — there will potentially exist every single necessary comfort and amenity to draw fans.

And here is what should be a legitimate fear in the pit of every Rangers official’s stomach — new restaurants and bars plus a roof and a working AC unit over the place is not a guarantee.

As evidenced by the franchises in Tampa, Miami, Arizona and Houston — miserably hot places, too — there is no magic pill for capacity crowds. Those four cities built stadiums with roofs for the hometown ball team, and those teams ranked 30th, 27th, 21st and 17th in 2016 MLB attendance.

The Rangers, before their latest late-season collapse in the playoffs, were the best team in the American League all season and finished 10th in the league in attendance at 2.71 million.

That’s not bad but that should have been a 3-million-fan attendance team. The Rangers were good, the owners spent a fortune on payroll — eighth in MLB — and assembled a roster of good pros fans could easily support.

There are no less than a dozen theories why a team so good didn’t put a butt in every seat for the first two home playoff games, or draw more than 3 million fans this season.

33,461Average attendance at Rangers’ home games this season, 10th in MLB.

There is the issue of first-pitch start times, the treatment of Nolan Ryan, the lack of public transportation in Arlington, the cost of the games, the fact that it’s baseball, the heat and the increased competition in a flooded entertainment market, among other theories.

For the Rangers, this “problem” is solved with a roof and AC. And they may very well be right.

The only way we will know is if Arlington voters give the club more money to build it. In five years or so, we will know if the team was correct.

If it works, great.

If it doesn’t, then the Rangers will know for sure and will be out of favors to ask Arlington.

Listen to Mac Engel every Tuesday and Thursday on Shan & RJ from 5:30-10 a.m. on 105.3 The Fan.

Voters will decide the fate of the proposed new home for the Texas Rangers, a $1 billion, retractable-roof stadium that requires a $500 million commitment from the city. (Star-Telegram/Robert Cadwallader)

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