Sunday, June 26, 2016

Jeff Mosier's Article

Jeff Mosier wrote this article in response to Brett Shipp's biased investigative piece written this week.
Jeff has the integrity to tell the truth about the contract with the Rangers.  His article follows:

People nationwide are wondering if the proposed $1 billion Texas Rangers stadium is essentially a scam of Arlington taxpayers after investigative reporting this week by WFAA-TV (Channel 8) bulldog Brett Shipp.
His story — picked up nationally — said the city-team contract features a secretive provision that increases Arlington taxpayers’ share of the deal from 50 percent to 80 percent. Shipp described this as something they didn’t want “you to see and aren’t eager to talk about.”
 Popular sports website Deadspin picked up Shipp’s story and concluded: “Spending public money on stadiums to give to billionaires is bad. Stop. [Expletive]. Doing it.”
The story was also aggregated by Yahoo NewsNBC Sports blog Hardball Talk and conservative website Breitbart.
The report brought up both long-running concerns about stadium financing but missed the mark in several aspects when it comes to the details, including the basic math.
This story doesn’t go into the debate about public financing of stadiums; that’s another story entirely. But here’s what you need to know about the stadium deal. 
What are the parking and ticket taxes?
The story’s gotcha element is the possible parking and ticket taxes. Those taxes haven’t officially been added to the deal, but they seem likely to happen.
If approved, the city would create a tax of up to 10 percent on Rangers stadium tickets and up to $3 on Rangers stadium parking. But the revenue would count toward the Rangers’ share of the debt rather than the city’s.
Using as a template AT&T Stadium — which has the same parking and ticket taxes — Shipp estimated this could raise about $300 million for the Rangers’ portion of the debt. When adding that chunk to the city’s $500 million share of the debt — where the report said it belongs — he estimated Arlington taxpayers would be hit with $800 million in debt or about 80 percent of the stadium cost.
But city officials pointed out this fails to take into account interest.
That $300 million Shipp calculated would actually pay off $120 million in debt, not $300 million. He said this city’s deal isn’t even close to 50-50. But math says it isn’t close to 80-20.
Arlington taxpayers’ debt load
The report also misses by continually referring to Arlington taxpayers and their share of the debt burden.
The parking and ticket taxes would be paid by those who go to the game. Some are Arlington residents. Some live outside the area. Also, roughly half the city’s sales tax money comes from nonresidents. While that $500 million debt is on the city’s ledger, about half will be paid by outsiders.
Precise numbers weren’t immediately available. But it’s possible that Arlington residents will pay for about 30 percent of the stadium, even when factoring in the parking and ticket taxes.
The numbers can tell varied and contradictory stories.
Reason for the taxes
The Rangers could have generated the same amount of money by raising ticket prices and parking fees by an equivalent amount. But doing it this way allows them to get a lower interest rate, since the bonds are backed by a dedicated revenue source.
The city considers this part of the team’s debt since the Rangers on the hook for the debt, not the taxpayers. If the revenue falls short, the city would charge the Rangers additional rent to make up for the shortfall.
That actually happened early on at the Cowboys’ new stadium. The parking and ticket taxes didn’t initially generate enough revenue so the Cowboys paid extra rent to meet the bond’s obligations. Those taxes are paying for nearly $148 million worth of bond debt for that football stadium.
There are many, though, who think this is sneaky math on the part of the city and the Rangers. They argue that these are taxes that are being handed over to a private business.
Same story, different team
The same complaints were lobbed against the Cowboys stadium project about a decade ago. The opposition to the use of those taxes was covered extensively back then by The Dallas Morning News and Fort Worth Star-Telegram as well as by Shipp.
Here’s an excerpt from a 2004 Dallas Morning News story I wrote shortly before early voting started for the Cowboys’ new stadium:
Q: Is this a 50-50 deal between Arlington and the Cowboys?
A: To borrow from past presidential politics, it depends on how you define the question. The city would pay $325 million or half of the cost, whichever is less. Supporters say that means that if there are cost overruns, the city is protected. Opponents have criticized that assertion, saying that the Cowboys will have part of their debt funded by an additional tax on tickets and parking. Also, they explained that the Cowboys would get almost all the revenue from the stadium.
Was the city trying to hide these taxes?
Shipp also popped on the Dennis and Friedo show at KESN-FM (103.3) Wednesday to discuss the stadium deal and said he knew when the Rangers stadium was announced that there would be a similar tax provision.
“Guess what? I found it,” he told the hosts. “Hell, it’s on Page 2. They didn’t even try to hide it. It’s just nobody decided to read it. But I read it, and I did the math. And the math means essentially that the citizens of Arlington will being paying for 80 percent — at least 80 percent — of that stadium, if it gets built.”

Arlington officials said the use of the parking and ticket taxes for the Rangers’ portion of the stadium debt wasn’t a secret. It wasn’t mentioned in press releases, but the information was widely available to the media and public.
Those taxes were featured in a pair of PowerPoint presentations Arlington City Manager Trey Yelverton gave to the City Council last month, when the deal was approved.
The taxes also were mentioned in the stadium deal frequently asked questions on the city’s new Rangers stadium web page.
In addition to other sources of funding, the Texas Rangers plan to utilize user fees to support construction of the new ballpark. These user fees could include a tax on admission tickets, a parking tax, and revenue from the sale of individual ‘Stadium Builder Licenses’ that enable the license holder to buy tickets for certain seats in the new ballpark. The City would issue these bonds, which are backed solely by ticket and parking taxes and not by any other source of tax revenue.
City officials initially ignored Shipp’s report but assembled this public statement after questions from The News.
“The city has endeavored to be as transparent as possible by providing all documents on a public website and making public announcements and presentations about the deal well in advance of a City Council vote to call an election,” Marketing Communications Manager Jay Warren said in a written statement. “Additionally, this was announced six months prior to a possible election, giving the public ample time to make an informed decision.
The statements from the city were measured. A press release issued Thursday afternoon from the Arlington Chamber of Commerce was a little less so, describing the story as “grossly inaccurate.”
“There has been a steady stream of biased coverage about the new Rangers ballpark from Dallas media,” wrote Michael Jacobson, president and CEO of the Arlington Chamber. “I am sure they have their motives, and it is possible that they are not in the best interests of Arlington. But the good news is outside forces will not make this decision. We are fortunate that Arlington’s future rests in the hands of our citizens on November 8th who will vote yes to keep our beloved Rangers in Arlington.”

In a way, they can agree on that.


  1. Taxes are levied, involuntarily upon citizens, by government. People expect those taxes to ostensibly fund functions of government, or to satisfy public debt. Giving those monies, forcefully extracted on citizens, to private entities is unethical at best. These taxes should be levied to pay for any PUBLIC debt. Period. Using this 'dedicated revenue stream' (involuntarily extracted private money from individuals) to leverage lower interest bonds is also unethical. Let the Rangers finance their own follies, and use their own financial credit worthiness to do so. The Ballpark is only 22 years old, and DOES NOT NEED TO BE REPLACED.

  2. Look Warren, you have to get it in your brain that the current stadium is going dark in 2024 or sooner. It is the 11th oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball. What you are hung up on is the word, "Tax". If the term was "user fee" you would feel better? Parking and ticket taxes are currently being used to pay debt at AT&T stadium. It is only a term used legally to allow the recipient to pay back taxes at a lower rate. That is all. The fact that all of this is paid for only by people that attend the game is lost on you. If you don't want to go to the game then you don't pay a cent. Arlington will get to have the Rangers where they belong for another 30 yrs.
    The current stadium is going dark, one way or another. A point I also want to make is that Texas Live and a new hotel are also being built as something that the citizens have been asking for and now it is here. Would it be nice to design and integrate this all together in one well thought out complex that all works together?


Thank you for your comment.