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Three Card Monte or Sleight of Hand in Arlington?


It appears someone has read the fine print on the public-private partnership that was put together by the lawyers for Major League Baseball’s Texas Rangers ownership and the city of Arlington, Texas for a new ballpark for the team. The 50-50 split of the costs associated with the construction and maintenance of the proposed $1 billion facility may not be entirely accurate. In the end, it could very well be that Arlington residents, people who rent cars, book hotels, or customers using stadium parking and purchasing tickets could be stuck with up to 80 percent of the bill.

The Arlington portion of the funding comes from the same source that was used for Jerry Jones’ Dallas Cowboys football facility in Arlington. Voters will decide whether they want to continue paying extra taxes to help fund the construction of the Ranger’s ballpark after the Cowboys taxes are retired. However, now that the fine print has been read, it may be a tougher road for the Ranger’s ownership and Arlington elected officials to get voter approval than originally anticipated. A clause regarding admission and parking tax has been included in the agreement between the city and the team ownership.  These two items alone could lead to a 10 percent surcharge on all tickets and a $3 surcharge per vehicle.

Here is the kicker!  The deal with Arlington allows the Ranger’s ownership to take the surcharge money and apply it to the team’s share of the construction cost. Under the right set of circumstances, this would allow the owners to collect $300 million from customers and use it for construction costs. All in all, a $500 million contribution becomes a $200 million contribution instead, and that’s not a bad deal if you can get it.

Ultimately, Arlington residents who are not necessarily Rangers or baseball fans get to vote in November.  This is good news for the residents considering that most stadium or arena deals are cut in backrooms.

By Evan Weiner for The Politics of Sports Business.

This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, Evan Weiner.


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