Picture the following: You invest $250,000 to build a house with the intention that after 30 years not only will it be paid off in full but you will then immediately have that perfectly good home demolished.
Not only is such logic asinine and financially detrimental but it is the norm in the maddening con game that is American professional sports “home building.”
The Ballpark in Arlington is 22, which means that archaic piece of junk has got to go. Just hope and pray the new one has transgender toilets.
However you cut it, Friday’s announcement in Arlington City Hall that city officials and the Rangers “found” an agreement to remain partners is good for Tarrant County and Arlington, but a new stadium is needless.
No one wants to see the Rangers leave Arlington, their first home in Texas, but all that happened on Friday is that an ownership group just made more money, and they did so by simply flirting with Dallas.
Fear is a wonderful motivator, and Arlington Mayor W. Jeff Williams did not want on his political tombstone a Rangers exodus to the east, even if Dallas never actually made an offer.
You may not like Rangers owners Ray Davis or Bob Simpson, but if Tom Hicks still owned this team, Friday’s announcement would never have happened. The Rangers would have been in downtown Dallas by 2025.
This deal is another example of our maddening paradox that makes up a large chunk of the U.S. economy; we are told to save and not buy “stuff we don’t need” and yet our financial system cracks and stalls because we are not buying “stuff we don’t need.”
A new baseball stadium in Arlington is more stuff we don’t need.
For Arlington, keeping the Rangers is always good for morale and pride, both of which have value. But at this price? Arlington plans to commit its taxpayers to a toy costing them $450 million when it already had a perfectly good one paid off.
“We can’t lose the Rangers,” Williams said. “We wanted to get this taken care of.”
What ticket-buying Rangers fans will enjoy is an awesome house that features the latest high-tech toys, higher ticket prices, and the chance to sit in an air-conditioned stadium as they play on their phones while their big league ball team plays a game. Ask anyone who has ever sat in the stands at the Ballpark after June 1 and they will tell you they cannot wait to blast that AC.
A new stadium will have no bearing on the organization’s ability to build a winning team, or a good pitching staff. We know now they can do both at the Ballpark despite its hitter-friendly dimensions in the sometimes three-digit heat that pitchers hate.
We also know the Rangers will average more than 40,000 fans if they win. The Rangers estimate they lose about 300,000 fans per season because of our infernal heat.
I will never argue with whether to turn on an air conditioner, but the estimation of 300,000 lost fans is a steaming pile of false advertising. Fans show up in any condition to watch winners.
If they lose, they don’t show up. They don’t in Houston, Milwaukee, Seattle, Miami or any other park that has a retractable roof.
In 2013, the Tampa Rays reached the playoffs but, despite its air-conditioned stadium, ranked last in MLB in attendance. That was the same year the Astros, who have a retractable roof, finished with 111 losses and ranked 27th in attendance.
I asked both Rangers owner Ray Davis and the Arlington mayor if the expense of $450 million to taxpayers is needed.
“We could have taken that same approach 20 years ago,” Davis said in a non-answer answer that says nothing, although he did mention correctly the Rangers plan to spend $450 million on this as well.
Williams said, “The investment we are going to make is going to pay off in giving us more money to strengthen our neighborhoods. The investment based on our economic impact study is overwhelming.”
Never buy the one-sided “economic impact study” that teams and cities fund to justify these projects. This is like an oil company finding a scientist to write a report that says oil spills eventually strengthen the environment.
The idea that sports stadiums are worth the monumental expense has been debunked by impartial economists for years; the one concentrated area where the stadium is located thrives while the rest of the city normally flounders and struggles along.
Take a 10-minute drive around Arlington and you will see there are far greater needs than a 43,000-seat stadium that will be open to the public about 90 days out of the year.
I am only 500 percent certain, if you ask Arlington ISD school teachers and administrators, that their respective buildings and classrooms are in actual need of supplies and upgrades, but to hell with them. The Rangers need a roof.
The overwhelming response to this announcement Friday was positive, meaning the vote on this in November is a foregone conclusion despite this being a presidential election year.
The people will pass a measure for a new toy because it’s fun, whereas measures for schools, fire departments and other “boring” parts of a city will continue to be addressed at the same indifferent pace as usual.
Despite what Davis and the Arlington mayor said Friday that “it’s still early,” bet huge the future of the current Ballpark is as a parking garage.
It is not a question of whether it is good that the Rangers remain in Arlington for another 30 years, because it is.
It’s a question of whether demolishing your nice house that is paid for is a good financial decision — because it’s not.
Listen to Mac Engel every Tuesday and Thursday on Shan & RJ from 5:30-10 a.m. on 105.3 The Fan.