All kinds of myths and imaginary scenarios have appeared in the news, commentary and social media since the announcement of a new Texas Rangers ballpark. One of the most misleading areas of discussion unfolded in the wake of the latest plans to ensure that the Rangers remain right where they belong — in Arlington. It’s the irrational conjecture by some that Dallas isn’t really trying to lure the team, and they cannot afford the cost of building a downtown stadium. To realize how nonsensical that is we need only to be reminded that efforts to steal the Rangers began 27 years ago when the team’s ownership changed hands.
Newspapers repeatedly declared the team would be moving to Dallas, that plans were already drawn up, and multiple downtown locations were available. Facing that serious threat, Arlington voters saw to it that the Rangers’ future would unfold in a new ballpark that opened in 1994.
About two years ago, knowing the current lease on the Arlington ballpark was coming to maturity, Dallas dusted off its old plans and resumed its determination to steal the team. Current team owners didn’t ask Dallas to do that. They never needed to because Dallas leaders were aggressive in their efforts to entice the team.
Arlington officials learned of the renewed initiatives from Dallas City Council members who couldn’t manage to conceal their enthusiasm. The forces at work included the current mayor, who had declared, upon his election, that relocating the Rangers was a major goal. He had the support of Downtown Dallas Inc., its CEO who has acknowledged the organization’s role, and its nearly 100 board members with vital interests in the future of the central business district.
Among those leaders are the city’s bankers, investment managers, utility company executives, real estate moguls, lawyers, accountants, news media chiefs, architects, landowners, tourism officials, oil barons, hotel owners and managers, retailers, transit officials, construction company owners and politicians. The president of the Greater Dallas Chamber of Commerce, a former Rangers officer, is among them, thereby opening up an entire support system beyond downtown. Obviously, they have a huge jackpot to win by bringing the Rangers and their 3 million fans to town and driving incalculable monetary benefits to them all.
What about the question of how Dallas would fund a new billion-dollar retractable domed stadium? First, the Rangers would likely pay for half the cost — just as they have agreed to do in the Arlington proposal. Entirely believable reports say the city of Dallas, not needing voter approval, would arrange financing for maybe half the remaining cost. With an annual city budget exceeding $3 billion, payment on that much new debt is entirely doable. That leaves the remaining money coming from the downtown interests named above.
Take a look at who these people are. Imagine the magnitude of their immense personal and corporate wealth. Then consider what hosting a major-league baseball team will mean to them in terms of financial gain. When you do, the realization of how and why they would come up with that investment would be obvious. Don’t be surprised if any of those identified above now equivocate about their plans or deny the structure of the deal being worked out. When so many are involved in such a scheme, it’s hard to keep it under wraps.
Richard Greene is a former Arlington mayor and served as an appointee of President George W. Bush as regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency.