The Texas Rangers are not happy with Star-Telegram media partner WFAA and specifically reporter Brett Shipp.
Shipp went digging into the team’s proposed agreement with the city of Arlington for the new retractable-roof ballpark; what he reported was that the taxpayers of the city are set to take on more of the “50/50” share of the costs than the two sides originally reported.
A couple of sports economists say it’s a rotten deal, mostly because, per the report, a clause would allow the Rangers to charge a 10 percent tax on tickets and $3 more on parking.
The story went viral and makes it look like city leaders and the Rangers are pulling one over on Arlington and are lining up taxpayers for an embarrassing Brexit-like outcome.
The city, in turn, issued a news release refuting the accuracy of Shipp’s report, and specifically took exception to the part where he said the city would eventually incur roughly 80 percent of the overall cost of the $1 billion project.
Arlington Chamber of Commerce president Michael Jacobson said in a news release, “The Rangers have the option to use a portion of the revenue they collect for parking and admission — revenue that would typically go to their bottom line — to help pay for the ballpark, though the club has not made a decision on whether to utilize this option.”
The reason the team has not made that decision is because that is exactly what it will do.
Whatever the specifics, just know two things: Co-owners Ray Davis and Bob Simpson are not doing this as a philanthropic endeavor, and ultimately the ticket buyer is covering half of the costs.
Brace for the reality that when the new place opens, all prices will increase from the price of a seat to parking to the cost of a hot dog or a Coke or, a beer, or a doughnut on a stick (that doesn’t exist yet but it should).
The justification is these increases are to help cover the costs incurred from the construction.
According to the latest MLB prices on TeamMarketingReport.com, the Rangers’ average prices for tickets, beer, parking, etc. are just slightly under the average throughout the league. Compared to other clubs, a Rangers game is a good deal.
It will be shocking if this remains the case after the new stadium opens.
I’m on record that the Rangers remaining in Arlington is a good thing, but a new ballpark also remains a waste of money. Taxpayer-funded sports stadiums are a scam.
The city has a perfectly timeless and wonderful park that is paid in full. I sat in the stands Wednesday night and always remain impressed with the venue.
The argument that the Rangers lose fans to the lack of air conditioning is simply a reach. The Rangers average 33,330 fans, in the heat, good for 10th in baseball. The only team with a retractable roof that ranks ahead of them in attendance is Toronto.
Expect the Rangers to close the doors on the proposed new place about 50 games a year. If the Rangers stink, they ain’t comin’, even if it’s 72 degrees.
Air conditioning will not fix what ails the team’s attendance issues. The reality is that the Ballpark is a long drive for the growing number of people who live in distant suburbs.
From the Ballpark, it’s a 40-mile drive to Frisco, 37.5 miles to Plano, 34.4 miles to Aledo and 28 miles to Lewisville. Traffic isn’t exactly brisk at 6 p.m.. Without a flying car, which Google co-founder Larry Page is actually working on, that’s well over one hour in a car, round trip, to attend a game.
Simpson and Davis are not doing this for air conditioning but rather to increase the overall value of their asset. Do not be surprised if these two sell the team shortly before, or after, the new park opens.
Before Nolan Ryan recruited them to become the primary investors, the average tenure of this franchise’s ownership was a bit over eight years. Davis/Simpson bought the team in 2010, so you do the math.
If Arlington voters approve this project during the Nov. 8 election, the Rangers immediately become significantly more valuable than when the pair bought the team. That will be bigger than any postseason win the Rangers will ever have for their bottom line.
In the latest rankings of MLB franchises, according to Forbes magazine, the Rangers are the 11th-most valuable club at $1.225 billion. Ray and Bob bought the team for just under $600 million.
Arlington’s approval to build Texas Live! near the park will increase the value of the team, not to mention that, on the hotel side of this project, the Rangers keep the hotel occupancy tax, property tax, sales tax and mixed beverage tax for 30 years.
Adding a new ballpark will only increase the value of the Rangers to record highs; I remember a bank guy once telling me about buying low and selling high.
Ultimately, the decision on whether the proposal to help the Rangers fund a new ballpark is a good idea is entirely on the taxpayers of Arlington. It’s your money and you are free to blow it on roads, schools, ballparks or whatever else.
However Brett Shipp and the city of Arlington want to debate it, the taxpayers are going to help fund it, the ticket buyers will cover the rest, and Simpson and Davis will simply cash in.
Listen to Mac Engel every Tuesday and Thursday on Shan & RJ from 5:30-10 a.m. on 105.3 The Fan.