Voters in the US city of Arlington have approved the use of public funding to develop a new $1bn (€909m) retractable-roof ballpark for Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise the Texas Rangers.
Unofficial returns, measuring 132 of 137 precincts, outlined that 60 per cent of voters approved a financial package that includes extending a sales tax and a hotel/motel tax to pay as much as $500m towards construction of a new facility next to the Rangers’ existing Globe Life Park home, which opened in 1994.
In May, the Rangers revealed plans to construct and open a new stadium with a capacity of between 42,000 and 44,000 by 2021. Agreed in partnership with the City of Arlington, both parties are set to contribute $500m to the project, with the Rangers assuming responsibility for any cost overruns. The city’s contribution had to be approved via a public referendum held during Tuesday’s US general election.
Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams had previously expressed fears that if a deal for a new ballpark was not reached the Rangers would seriously consider moving to Dallas or another city in North Texas. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram newspaper said that under the financial package, voters were asked to extend the half-cent sales tax being used to pay off city debt from construction of AT&T Stadium, home of NFL American football franchise the Dallas Cowboys.
The measure would also extend a two per cent hotel-occupancy tax and five per cent car-rental tax to pay for as much as half of the new stadium’s cost. Final completion of a stadium deal would result in the Rangers’ lease, which was due to expire in 2024, being extended through the 2053 season. The Star-Telegram said construction could begin as early as next year, with plans to open in time for the 2020 season.
“The vote reinforces the 40-plus-year relationship the Rangers have with this city,” Rob Matwick, Rangers executive vice-president for business operations, said. “Our objective is to carry it forward for the next 40 years. So we’re very excited.”