Thursday brought news that Mark Cuban has checked at least one name off his holiday gift-giving list. The billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks recently bought the town of Mustang, a wee place just off Interstate 45, about a ten-minute drive south of Corsicana. The entire town. Why did he do this? According to the Dallas Morning News, the previous owner was a friend of his who needed the cash. “I don’t know what if anything I will do with it,” Cuban told the paper.
If we had a nickel for every time a rich pal stepped in to buy a small town we could no longer afford to keep, why, we’d certainly be able to afford all of the small towns we own. But taking possession of Mustang without a plan, while magnanimous, is also seemingly too boring for a famously ambitious guy like Cuban. To just own a town and then forget about it would be a missed opportunity. To get his creative juices flowing, we’ve taken the liberty of offering a few suggestions.
There are only a handful of blue-chip NBA players whom teams can confidently seek to build a dynasty around, and Mavs star Luka Dončić is one of them. Texas basketball fans have seen firsthand that even the seemingly sturdiest bonds between young stars and their teams can go sour—Spurs fans still mourn what might have been with Kawhi Leonard—and Christmas movies have long taught us the value of a grand romantic gesture in strengthening relationships.
Accordingly, despite “Mustang, Texas” being an objectively cool name, “Dončić” might be even better. It may also confuse any GPS unfamiliar with Slovenian names, which should help keep the town’s residents from dealing with too many pilgrimages by enthusiastic Mavericks fans.
One selling point the real estate agent who tried to find a previous buyer for Mustang stressed to the Dallas Morning News? The town has 23 human residents, plus one sizable reptile. “There is a resident alligator in one of the ponds,” he told the paper.
Alligators are weird and prehistoric-looking, but not generally a danger to people (at least not if you don’t challenge them). Given that the creature represents more than 4 percent of Mustang’s population—surely one of the higher gator-to-human ratios among incorporated areas of Texas—we’d encourage Cuban to honor the scaly beast by granting him the town’s highest political office. It would be a fine way to honor the Texas tradition of elevating animals to roles that don’t require much attention in small municipalities. The gator could well follow in the footsteps of Mayor Clay Henry, the beer-drinking goat of Lajitas.
Like some other high-profile billionaires (looking at you, Elon), Cuban is an outspoken advocate for cryptocurrency and non-fungible tokens. Last month, he even began issuing NFTs to attendees of Mavericks games. Mustang could offer him another platform from which to preach the power of the blockchain. If the town’s lone business (a defunct strip club) were to reopen, he could encourage customers to tip their dancers in Dogecoin. He could also set up his own mining operation there, joining the club of companies that have been showing up like the Music Man to tout crypto’s potential to economically revitalize small-town Texas.
Or, and we can’t stress this enough: he could not do any of those things. After the initial crypto-mining boom in small towns in other states, many of those places have tried to tame the operations, which put a heavy strain on power grids as a result of the resource-intensive computing involved.
As folks in Texas’s larger cities have learned in recent years, a sudden influx of a large number of newcomers can be a mixed blessing. On the upside: Hey, more people! We like people. On the downside: Wow, it is hard for many Texans to afford rent, or to buy a house, when there are a zillion new arrivals competing for the same places to live. There are countless folks in Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and other cities who’ve been priced out or have watched these places change into something they scarcely recognize. Cuban, as an enterprising sort of fella, could invite all of those folks to move to Mustang. The town could become a hub for displaced, disillusioned, disenchanted Texans from around the state—or at least as many of them as can be comfortably accommodated in its 77 total acres. Although that could create a cycle in which current Mustang residents would have to deal with many of the same consequences that big-city Texans have lamented.
This is probably a bad idea, and it speaks to the challenge Cuban faces in finding something to do with the small town he just bought. There are people who already live there, and they don’t really need someone to come in and make a bunch of changes. With that in mind, his statement that he doesn’t know what, if anything, he’ll do with the place—while unexciting—looks wise.
He should definitely decree the alligator mayor, however. That would be fun.