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Analysis Shows Texas Taxpayers May Be Stuck with 80 Percent of Costs for New Rangers Park

Despite claims that the proposed retractable roof for a new Texas Rangers’ stadium would be paid for with a 50-50 deal between the team’s money and tax dollars, a new analysis seems to show that the taxpayers would be paying far more than half the costs.

According to a new report by WFAA Channel 8 in Arlington, Texas, instead of picking up half of the one billion-dollar price tag, taxpayers will be stuck paying up to 80 percent of the costs. The hefty price tag comes just 22 years after taxpayers subsidized the construction of the current home of the Rangers, Globe Life Park.

After passing a “master agreement” to hike a long list of taxes on Arlington residents in May, Mayor Jeff Williams insisted that the costs for the new ballpark is a 50-50 deal with the city only kicking in $500 million.

But the TV station’s analysis revealed that other taxes that weren’t much discussed are also included in the plan that could mean hundreds of millions in new revenue for the team and higher costs on taxpayers.

“Tucked in the agreement,” the analysis finds, “is a clause called the ‘admissions and parking tax’ that allows for a 10 percent surcharge on event tickets and up to $3 additional surcharge on parking. State law allows cities to collect and use the taxes to build their stadiums. Arlington’s agreement, however, allows the Rangers to use the admissions and parking tax revenues to help pay their half of the construction costs.”

According to Rick Eckstein, a Villanova University professor who studies sports stadium economics, there is a “sleight of hand” going on where on one hand the city is claiming taxpayers are only paying half the stadium improvement costs but on the other these new costs to see a game forms a separate transfer of money from the people into the team’s pocket, money that the team can use to offset the cash it claims it is spending on the stadium refit.

“If it really is a tax and could be used by the municipality, then in essence it’s just transferring revenue from the public sector to the private sector,” Eckstein said.

The estimate shows the team could reap an extra $10 million in revenue from the new taxes or even up to an additional $300 million over a 30-year span.

So, while Mayor Williams insists that the Rangers are paying $500 million of its own money, the mayor also quietly gave the Rangers an entire new revenue stream to help the team offset the cost all on the backs of taxpayers.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at igcolonel@hotmail.com

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