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Arlington Votes To Help Texas Rangers Build A New Stadium

Christopher Connelly/KERA News
Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams thanks supporters and volunteers.

The Texas Rangers will be getting a new stadium. That news after voters in Arlington overwhelmingly approved a plan to use local tax dollars to pay for half of a $1 billion ballpark with a retractable roof.

Supporters of the plan got good news almost immediately after the polls closed. Some 60 percent of early voters approved the proposition.

“I went straight to the bar,” said Anshul Singhal. “I didn’t have to worry about anything. I was happy, I knew it was a big gap to cover.”

Singhal runs a hotel in Arlington, and says as much as a quarter of his business is related to the Rangers.

“This is what has to happen for the city of Arlington to grow,” he said.

It quickly became clear that the early lead was decisive. Arlington would get a new ballpark.

“I am relieved because I did feel like our city was at risk,” said Mayor Jeff Williams.

And also I am very excited about the opportunities.”

Williams spent the last months campaigning for the deal. He says the city's civic and business leaders were worried Arlington could lose the Rangers when their lease on Globe Life Park ends in eight years. The new stadium will be an anchor for the team, he says, and also an anchor for an expanded entertainment district

“The new Rangers ballpark will be more than just a ballpark. It’ll be a special events center. And together we will create a very unique venue that’ll attract a lot of events even beyond sports,” he said.

Just across East Lamar Boulevard, a smaller crowd was gathered. And they were notably less jubilant. These were the volunteers who spent the last months knocking doors to talk their neighbors into dumping the deal.

“We’ve worked our tails off for two weeks of early voting and months and months before that. And this is a tough pill to swallow,” said Andy Prior, a spokesman for the Save our Stadium campaign.

Prior said it was an uphill battle to begin with. His group had less than $10,000 to get their message out. The yes camp spent about $1.5 million on a sophisticated campaign operation. Still, Prior was surprised voters backed the plan with such a wide margin.

“You know based on everything we heard, based on polling, based on conversations with people, we definitely expected this to be a lot closer,” he said.

The deal extends a mix of sales, car rental and hotel taxes currently being used to pay off debt from the Dallas Cowboys AT&T Stadium.

Christopher Connelly is a reporter covering issues related to financial instability and poverty for KERA’s One Crisis Away series. In 2015, he joined KERA to report on Fort Worth and Tarrant County. From Fort Worth, he also focused on politics and criminal justice stories.