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Arlington City Council approves master agreement for PPP with Rangers to construct new US$1bn ballpark

Arlington City Council has unanimously approved a master agreement for a public-private partnership (PPP) with the Texas Rangers for the possible construction of a US$1bn retractable-roof stadium and supporting development in the Entertainment District at its May 24 meeting.

This agreement allows the City of Arlington to begin the steps required to hold an election this November that asks voters to extend existing funding mechanisms that would provide the public financing for construction of a new ballpark. The Texas Rangers’ 30-year lease on the City-owned Globe Life Park in Arlington is set to end in 2024. With the new master agreement, the Rangers’ partnership with Arlington would extend until January 1, 2054.

The design for the new ballpark will include a retractable roof for climate control and shelter for fans during the hot summer months, as well as a premiere baseball experience. The new park is expected to have similar design concepts featured in the construction of Globe Life Park.

While designs and costs have not been finalised, the cost of the new ballpark and related infrastructure is estimated at US$1bn. The master agreement for this PPP calls for a 50-50 split between the Texas Rangers and the City of Arlington.

Arlington Mayor W. Jeff Williams, said:

The Texas Rangers are a part of our fabric, a part of our DNA. The City Council and I have heard the message loud and clear: our citizens want the Texas Rangers to stay in Arlington. No doubt any city would want the Rangers. We want to be proactive and continue this 45-year relationship, which has been so successful for us, for the team and the North Texas region. This is where they belong and this deal keeps them here for generations to come.

Texas Rangers Co-Chairman, Ray Davis, issued the following statement after the Council unanimously approved the master agreement:

Tonight’s action by the City Council is an important step in the process in this public-private partnership to build a new ballpark for Arlington and all our fans. I want to thank and commend Mayor Jeff Williams and the Arlington city leaders for their vision in reaching out to us and helping put together and approving this historic agreement. The Rangers are excited about the possibility of calling Arlington home for many years to come, and we are committed to building a world-class facility which will provide the best possible experience for our fans. We look forward to working with Mayor Williams, the City leaders, and the citizens of Arlington over the next several months to insure that this dream becomes a reality.

The master agreement caps Arlington’s proposed bond-funded contribution for the ballpark and outlines the City’s requirements and expectations for the project to move forward.

The City will now ask the Texas Office of the Comptroller to review the fiscal impact to the State before calling a November 8 election on the proposed methods of financing.

The Arlington Convention and Visitors Bureau commissioned an independent consulting group to provide an analysis of the economic impact of the Texas Rangers franchise on Arlington. HR&A Advisors found that the annual economic impact of the Rangers in a new ballpark would be US$74m for Arlington and US$133.5m for Tarrant County. According to HR&A’s analysis, the net present value of the Rangers continued presence between 2016-2054 with a new ballpark would be US$2.43bn for Arlington and US$4.35bn for Tarrant County.

The proposed new stadium will be built on what is currently a team parking lot, south of the existing ballpark, south of Randol Mill Road. The City and the Rangers are discussing the future of the 23-year-old Globe Life Park in Arlington, with options including office development, park space, parking and a possible extension to the Texas Live! project.

Arlington voters have previously supported stadium projects; with voters having approved a half-cent sales tax to help construct the Texas Rangers’ current home back in 1991. That sales tax went away after the City’s US$135m debt on the ballpark was paid off in 2001, a decade earlier than scheduled. Then again in 2004, voters approved a half-cent sales tax, a 5 percent car rental tax and a 2 percent hotel occupancy tax (venue taxes) to help publically finance the Dallas Cowboys’ US$1.2bn AT&T Stadium. The City’s stadium debt is scheduled to be paid off in 2028 but is projected to be paid off at a faster pace.

The City of Arlington will now set about putting in place the necessary steps to hold an election on November 8, 2016, and establish the possible funding mechanisms to help finance the new ballpark’s construction, while also paying off the AT&T Stadium debt.

 

Image: Texas Rangers’ current ‘home’, Globe Life Park. Courtesy: Texas Rangers.