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Proposed Rangers Ballpark Could Reshape Payroll

New Rangers ballpark

A lot of variables remain unknown when it comes to the Texas Rangers’ proposed retractable-roof ballpark, but what is clear is how it could shape the team’s payroll.

Though it has a funding model and a site, the proposal still has a few key steps to complete before preliminary concepts can be refined and come closer to being a reality. Looming large for the Rangers is the upcoming election, in which voters will consider the City of Arlington’s potential contribution to the ballpark.

That vote-combined with the fact that the ballpark will not open until 2020 or 2021-obviously leaves a lot of unanswered questions about what the finished product will look like, and how it will affect the Rangers on the field. What is clear, however, is that the ballpark and development from Texas Live! could give the team additional payroll flexibility.

Texas Live! was already expected before before the ballpark proposal was announced, but the potential to have both a sprawling entertainment complex and a new facility open within a few years of each other might change the team’s financial outlook. As Rangers president of baseball operations and general manager Jon Daniels noted recently, such revenue could change how much the team spends on its on-field product. Via SportsDay, here are the thoughts Daniels expressed during a recent interview on the Gavin and Chris Show on 105.3 FM-The Fan:

“Texas Live is a development project that is going to be a little across the street from where the stadium is, across that little creek from where the Cowboys’ stadium is. That’s underway planning-wise and moving forward. The stadium, if approved in November the election, would go kinda behind that. Just south of that but still on the same side of the creek from where the Cowboys stadium is.

“From a capacity standpoint — a lot of these things are still in the works, until we get approval, until the vote passes we’re not going to totally move forward with all of these plans — the agreement with the city calls for no less than 38,000 seats but we’re looking at my guess it will end up being in the low-to-mid 40s once the plans are done, which is a little bit less than we have now. We’re having a very good attendance year right now but we’re averaging about 34,000 or so. You want to create a homefield advantage. You want to create something where all the seats are good seats. You want to create a good environment. I think that’s kinda what we’re going after.

“At the end of the day, our payroll is a function of revenue, as most baseball teams are. So we have a general rule — it’s near 50 percent from an operating standpoint. Our owner’s goal is to operate at close to a break-even. Any additional dollars from a revenue standpoint should lead to a bigger payroll and more flexibility for us as we put the team together.”

Typically, teams like the Rangers are not analyzed as case studies on how a new ballpark could reshape spending. Since the beginning of this decade alone, the Rangers have won two American League pennants and made four playoff appearances overall, including last year’s American League West title. The team is competitive again this year, thanks in part to its formula of developing talent through its farm system, trading for big pieces, and signing free agents to varying degrees of success.

In other words, the question of whether the ballpark will make the Rangers more competitive has probably not been on the minds of many. However, the ballpark proposal shows that teams-regardless of how successful they are in the present-are going to look for future revenue sources, and the Rangers might be in line for the potential influx of money that comes from a new facility and development.

Rendering courtesy of Populous.

This article first appeared in the weekly Ballpark Digest newsletter. Are you a subscriber? It’s free, and you’ll see features like this before they appear on the Web. Go here to subscribe to the Ballpark Digest newsletter.

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