The Big Mac Blog

Phoenix’s Westgate a model of what is coming to Arlington’s “Texas Live!”

One half of Westgate is dedicated to more family-friendly establishments.
One half of Westgate is dedicated to more family-friendly establishments. Star-Telegram

Westgate Entertainment District is not a replica of what is coming to Arlington, Texas with “Texas Live!” but it’s the same premise - a large, mixed-used area with restaurants and bars anchored around sports stadiums.

Westgate is the spot that was built out of the desert that is nearly adjacent to the home of the Phoenix Cardinals and Arizona Coyotes. It’s been through hell and back - i.e. creditors and default - but it looks like a modestly stable draw now.

Last year, the city of Arlington and the Texas Rangers announced they would build a new, $200 million pedestrian friendly area that is within a short walk to the Ballpark and Jerry World.

The artist renderings indicate it should create a good pre and post game buzz (literally).

As to what will be a draw to this area during the quiet times - aka when there are no events at the Ballpark or Jerry World - that’s the tricky part. Will patrons want to dine and drink at Texas Live! without the hook of a ball game or a concert?

Texas Live! will be a 365 area, and events can be counted on to occupy maybe one-third of that schedule. Future phases hinge on whether this is a draw out of season.

The plan was to originally have it ready for Opening Day in 2017 but that’s not going to happen. Club executive vice president Rob Matwick told me that ground breaking has been delayed.

“We are hoping to break ground in the second quarter,” he said. “We want to get all of the construction done at once. They tell me it’s a 12-month build out. Probably it will be done the end of April ‘17.”

It’s good to know contractors for big league baseball teams are just as reliable for regular homeowners - “Hey, it’s gonna be done by Tuesday, I just can’t say which Tuesday.”

Matwick said that Texas Live! will be based on the same footprint used for Cardinals Village in downtown St. Louis.

Former team owner Tom Hicks had wanted to do a large mixed use area around the stadium since 2001 in what was to be called “Glory Park.” He just didn’t want to spend the money to have it completed. He thought Jerry Jones might foot the bill when Jerry World came to Arlington, but this project did not happen until last year.

There has been no formal decision on what hotel chain will occupy the designated space, but expect something of a higher brand than Bob’s Hotel Shed.

Matwick said the club informally polled employees as to their individual tastes as far as food and drink to get an idea of what to potentially use. He expects a mix of national and local brands.

If touring Westgate is any indication, fans should expect a large area occupied mostly by prominent chain restaurants and an area where you can drink and eat before and after the games. You will be able to drive and park and then walk to everything.

Using Westgate as an indicator, Texas Live! could have some struggles when the Ballpark and Jerry World are dark. Westgate is located in faaaaaaaar West Phoenix and, unless there is an event there, traffic flow is not a guarantee. Talking to a handful of people who work in the restaurants there, they say business booms on game days and it’s OK on other days. I counted at least 11 vacant retail spots during a recent visit there.

Westgate has an outlet mall across a parking lot, and a Dave and Busters plus a movie theater to draw a crowd when the Cardinals and Coyotes are not playing. That has given Westgate a more constant flow of patrons so it doesn’t feel like a ghost town.

Texas Live!, at least in this initial phase, will be about a hotel, convention space and restaurants and bars. Other phases may come in the future, depending on the success of this project in 2017 and ‘18.

And Matwick reiterated the success of Texas Live! has no bearing on the future of the team in Arlington; the club’s least with the city expires after the 2023 season.

By design Texas Live! doesn’t need the Rangers or the Cowboys but it will only thrive with them.