Just a few months ago, there was a ton of chatter about the prospects of Dallas getting a baseball stadium in downtown. The conversation was spurred by the Texas Rangers’s paltry attendance numbers over the course of their 2015 season and the Dallas skyline appearing on the team’s AL West pennant t-shirts. Fact: the Texas Rangers’s lease at Globe Life Park is up 2024. Fiction: there is an actual shot in hell that the Rangers will leave Arlington and play baseball anywhere else for the foreseeable future. And now, with the approval of “Texas Live!”—a 100,000-square-foot entertainment district in Arlington that would be constructed just south of Globe Life Park—the dream of a downtown Dallas-dwelling Texas Rangers (or even a move out to Fort Worth) is pretty much dead.
On December 15, the Arlington City Council unanimously approved the $200 million development that is set to include an entertainment area, retail shops, restaurants, a 300-room hotel, and a 35,000 square foot meeting and conference space. The city plans on throwing the project $50 million in gas revenue, as well as giving the hotel tax breaks that could add up to $50 million. For the time being, none of these tax breaks will come out of Arlington residents’s pockets; the entertainment district will be developed and owned by the Texas Rangers and a family-owned real estate developer based in Baltimore called the Cordish Companies. Construction is set to begin sometime next year, and the ribbon will be cut twelve months later.
The development, at its heart, is another way Arlington is fashioning itself into becoming North Texas’ Times Square. But since everything’s bigger in Texas, this tourism oasis is 99 square miles. During a press conference, Chuck Morgan, longtime Rangers announcer and executive vice president of Ballpark Entertainment and Productions, called Texas Live! “the next step to the Arlington entertainment district.” Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams said the development will create 1,800 new jobs and that the revenue it generates—slated to be around $100 million—will get funneled back into the city’s neighborhoods. “This is going to strengthen the region,” he said. “This is going to draw more tourists to North Texas.”
Outside of the Texas Rangers, Arlington is home to Six Flags Over Texas, the Dallas Cowboys, Hurricane Harbor, and the International Bowling Museum & Hall of Fame. When the Cowboys aren’t playing, AT&T stadium transforms into an event center that can easily shatter attendance records (last summer, 104,793 visited AT&T Stadium for George Strait’s farewell tour stop and broke the attendance record for an indoor concert by over 17,000).
Though Arlington prides itself on tourism, a Twitter study has shown that Arlington residents hate tourists more than any other city in America. The data used in the study isn’t all that comprehensive and essentially just shows that people in Arlington tweet about hating tourists more than anyone anywhere else. But, it’s interesting nonetheless and shows that people in Arlington tweet more about hating tourists than New Yorkers and Las Vegans.
With all of the glee that Arlington has for amenities, entertainment, and its insistence that you come visit “America’s Dream City,” it’s still odd that a city in the middle of a large metroplex doesn’t have a comprehensive public transportation system.