The Texas Rangers are upgrading to a new stadium.
Globe Life Park has been an Arlington staple for over 20 years. The Texas Rangers, formally known as the Washington Senators were established in 1961. The team transformed into the Texas Rangers and found a home in Arlington in 1971. Since then, the team has brought seven west division titles back to the city, along with two World Series appearances.
Negotiations between the city of Arlington and the Texas Rangers on a new ballpark made waves earlier this year. The estimated $1 billion stadium will come with a retractable roof. Funding will be split between the city and the Texas Rangers, according to the Ballpark Project website.
“This project has been going on for a long time,” City Manager Trey Yelverton said at a city council meeting. “This modeled very much what we had done in the previous Rangers transaction which was a two-thirds by the city and one-third contribution by the team. That changed over time as the project cost increased and we were capped and the project became more expensive.”
The proposed changes have been met with support and opposition. According to the campaign’s website, the Vote Yes! side favored keeping the Rangers in Arlington while splitting the cost. Backed by Mayor Jeff Williams, they argued the Rangers’ location boosts the city’s economy, and the team had a probability of leaving once their contract expired in 2024.
“I’d still be a fan if they left Arlington because I like the players,” Arlington resident Amy Warren said. “I enjoy going to games so to not be able to do that anymore would definitely have an effect.”
The Save Our Stadium side, supported by Citizens for a Better Arlington, deemed the new stadium unnecessary and stated the Rangers should solely pay for it, according to its website.
“The Texas Rangers are here already,” Pablo Frias, Save Our Stadium supporter said at the meeting. “The stadium, again, is only 22 years of age. There’s no reason we need a new ballpark right now.”
Frias said the retractable roof can be installed at Globe Life Park. He also claimed the city was immoral and unethical for asking the citizens to approve a new tax when the Rangers could pay for it themselves.
“To sit here and almost force this down our throats as the citizens of Arlington, to put the bill on our back, the common person, to line the pockets of billionaires, is just simply not right,” Frias said.
The city, however, does not plan to impose any new tax.
The half-cent sales tax and the other taxes used to pay for the Cowboys’ stadium will be reauthorized to be used for construction of the Rangers’ ballpark. Any potential difference in the fundamental ability of Arlington residents should be at a minimum.
The city previously encountered a similar scenario. The construction of nearby $1.2 billion AT&T Stadium cost Arlington taxpayers $325 million, according to the stadium’s website.
The taxpayer’s share on the construction cost of the new Rangers stadium will be $175 million more than what was arranged for the Cowboys.
Under the existence of the new stadium, Arlington will collect $134.4 million as gross revenue from the Texas Rangers during the length of their new contract until 2054, according to Arlington Ballpark Economic and Fiscal Impact Study.
HR&A Advisors, a real estate and economic development consulting firm, conducted the study and estimated economic impacts to Tarrant County and Arlington.
The city discussed with the Rangers whether a roof could be put on the existing ballpark, but the team felt the old ballpark no longer suited them, Yelverton said.
“In retrofitting the existing ballpark, while as beautiful as it is, that’s a tough, you know, issue to deal with,” he said. “It was just simply a topic that was not going to work with a new facility on an old building, older building that is going to be retrofitted.”
Arlington City Council members went on to unanimously approve a special election for the proposition. Citizens had the opportunity to vote for or against the new stadium on November 8.
Election results swung in the Vote Yes! side’s favor. Sixty percent of the precincts voted in favor to keep the Rangers until at least 2054 and build the new facility.
Arlington Stadium was demolished in 1994 to make way for the current ballpark. Globe Life Park will not suffer the same fate. Instead, it will be used as part of a new entertainment complex called Texas Live! which is being designed to create a more enjoyable experience for fans attending games at the new ballpark.
Texas Live! will feature restaurants, sports bars and a 300-room hotel. The hotel will include restaurants, authentic memorabilia and two arenas. The Live! Arena will be used for concerts and will have an outdoor beer garden. Arlington Backyard will feature concerts, community events and charitable functions.
While the new ballpark will cost over $800 million more than its predecessor, the current stadium has a higher seating capacity. Globe Life Park can currently seat around 48,000 people. The new ballpark will only hold around 42,000 fans.
Students at the University of Texas at Arlington have also been affected by the voting results.
“I’m a typical struggling college kid, so of course I don’t approve of a new city tax for a baseball stadium,” journalism major Abhijit Mody said. “Not everyone that lives in Arlington is a baseball fan, and the people that go to games already have to pay for tickets, souvenirs and expensive food.”
Mirroring Save Our Stadium’s views, Mody said the current stadium does not need to be replaced.
“Why shouldn’t the team be responsible for paying for the stadium themselves?” he said. “The stadium is close to UTA, so I’ve been to some games since I’ve gone to school here, and I thought the stadium was really nice. It’s also not very old anyways from what I’ve heard.”
Construction could begin as early at 2017. The stadium is set to host its first ball game in 2020. It will be located south of Randol Mill Road and west of Stadium Drive in Arlington.