ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) – The Texas Rangers and their fans are getting a new ballpark, after 60 percent of voters in Arlington approved the new stadium with 40 percent being against it. The final tally was 69,939 people voting ‘for’ and 46,621 people voting ‘against.’
“I’m so appreciative of our citizens working together to make a difference,” said Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams at the Vote Yes party, shortly after the early results were released. “Now is the time to make a difference.”
Arlington voters answered a $1 billion question. Existing sales, hotel and rental car taxes will help fund the project, along with a possible $3.00 parking tax at the new ballpark and a tax of as much as 10 percent on ticket sales. The city will contribute up to $500 million.
The new stadium will replace Globe Life Park, and be located right next door. The next step is to finalize the building’s design and cost. But the project goes far beyond the stadium. Officials plan to create an entire entertainment district around the new ballpark and AT&T Stadium. Globe Life Park will not be torn down, but repurposed as part of this ‘Texas Live!’ district.
The current stadium could be used as a convention center, museum or even youth field. The area will also feature restaurants, retail and offices. “I’m very excited about a Texas-sized plaza that is going to be called Arlington’s backyard,” said Williams.
The ‘yes’ vote keeps the Rangers in Arlington for at least 30 more years. Globe Life Park is 22 years old, and the team’s lease in that building expires in 2024. There was no guarantee that the team would stay in Arlington afterward. “There was Dallas and a host of other cities that came to the Rangers,” Williams said. They will now be in Arlington until 2054.
Players could get their new home as early as 2020, and the facility is expected to be used year-round. “The Rangers want to try to break ground at the end of 2017 so that they can be ready to open in April of 2020,” said Williams.
Current plans for the stadium include a retractable roof and climate control to cut down on heat issues and rain delays, as well as 42,000 seats. Williams added that there will be an affordably-priced section for families.
“Without a doubt, the feeling of relief,” Williams said, “because I felt like our city was at risk. That we were at risk of losing an incredible partner in our community.”
The campaign enjoyed widespread backing from elected officials, police and fire organizations, and business leaders. Williams was the lead on building a new ballpark. The city inundated people with flyers. But campaigners against the new ballpark said that it was wasteful spending, and challenged claims that there were no new taxes involved in the deal.