Texas Rangers unveil billion-dollar ballpark plan

Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise the Texas Rangers has revealed plans to construct and open a new $1bn (€884m) ballpark by 2021.

Agreed in partnership with the City of Arlington, the climate-controlled facility, which would feature a retractable roof, will, if approved, be built near to Globe Life Park (pictured), the Rangers’ home since 1994. The team’s 30-year lease on the existing venue is due to expire in 2024. With the new proposed master agreement, the Rangers' partnership with Arlington would extend until January 1, 2054.

Both parties will contribute $500m to the project, with the Rangers assuming responsibility for any cost overruns. The city’s contribution, which will be provided through an extension of existing taxes, must be approved via a public referendum during the November 8 general election.

Under the agreement between the two parties, the new ballpark will be owned by the City of Arlington, with the Rangers taking control of its design and construction. In addition to the retractable roof, the venue is likely to have a capacity of between 42,000 to 44,000 and feature natural grass.

The Rangers said its financing of the project will come through users fees, which could include a tax on admission tickets, a parking tax and revenue from the sale of individual ‘Stadium Builder Licences’ that allow the holder to purchase tickets for certain seats in the venue.

Confirmation of the plans comes amidst speculation over the Rangers’ future, with the team having been linked with a possible move to Dallas, Texas. The deal with the City of Arlington enables the franchise to move into a new home three years before it could do if it relocated to another city.

“The Texas Rangers have chosen to stay in Arlington, Texas,” Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams said. “Our families and business leaders understand the Texas Rangers have been one of our strongest economic engines. There weren’t any other options. We needed to keep the Texas Rangers in Arlington."

Rangers’ owner Ray Davis, who said the plans represent a ‘dream’ for his team, added: "It’s personal, when I think where our fan base comes from. We service five states. It is our responsibility as owners to make sure our fans have the best fan experience for years to come. We owe it to our fan base in North Texas and five states to give them a fan-friendly, safe, comfortable environment.”

The team had looked at the possibility of adding a retractable roof to its existing home in the city, but Davis said that the project would be unfeasible. He said: “It's difficult to add new technology to an old facility. The construction of a new facility with a retractable roof and so many other amenities would allow us to enhance that experience in a manner that is not presently possible.

“The Rangers and Arlington have enjoyed a great partnership for 45 years, and we are excited about the possibility of calling this City home for many years to come.”

Arlington City Council will consider designating a venue project and authorising the master agreement for the public-private partnership with the Texas Rangers at its meeting tomorrow (Tuesday).