The Arlington, Texas, city council took the first step toward approving a massive plan to help build the Rangers a new stadium despite overwhelming opposition from citizens speaking at the meeting.
The Rangers’ Globe Life Park turned just 22 this season but in a 7 to 0 vote council members approved the billion-dollar plan for a new park they hope opens by 2021. Rangers management demands the new stadium with the retractable roof because the amenity allegedly guarantees increased attendance in the sweltering summers of the Dallas Metroplex.
The council met this week to consider the first step in officially funding the new stadium and passed the measure even though most of the citizens who spoke during the public comment period opposed the deal.
Even as few supporters spoke, District 7 city council member Victoria Farrar-Myers voted yes. “I understand the give-and-take. I’ve studied democracy, participating in government, and I can think of no better time than now to ask our citizens how they can best decide their future,” she said according to the Dallas Morning News.
Those who supported the expensive new stadium said stopping the team from leaving Arlington made the expenditure worth it. But those who stood against the plans wondered why the city should put itself in debt when the current stadium strikes no one as outdated.
One resident, Kimberly Franklin, felt bullied by supporters of the stadium.
“I oppose this corporate welfare, which would indeed include a new tax,” she said. “The funding mechanism may be the same, but the taxes will be going to a different facility, so it is indeed a new tax.”
Some also opposed the city’s plans to build and maintain the new parking lots at public expense.
Supporters, though, say that the new stadium won’t include new taxes on everyone in the city because the half-cent sales tax, 2 percent hotel occupancy tax, and five percent rental car tax that had already been levied would be re-purposed for the new stadium.
However, many citizens did not believe the no new taxes claim.
The current stadium built in 1994 cost $305 million in today’s dollars. It was last renovated in 2010 and the $135 million in bonds have already been paid off.
Many studies show that the massive costs for these stadiums rarely, if ever, actually pay off for taxpayers. And at least one pro athlete has criticized stadium deals like this. Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman insisted early in June that the billionaires who own pro sports teams should be paying for their own stadiums instead of going to the taxpayers with their hands out.
The Tuesday meeting was only a first step in the process. Another hearing will be held later this month.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at email@example.com.