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If Referendum Fails, is Dallas an Option for Rangers?

New Rangers ballpark

As the Texas Rangers continue their pursuit of a new retractable-roof ballpark, some are wondering if Dallas is a viable backup option.

The situation in Arlington, where the Rangers are vying for voter approval of a $1 billion facility, will be closely monitored over the next few weeks. Polling from both the pro and anti-ballpark camps shows strikingly different results, and the question also remains of how viable of an alternative Dallas represents for the Rangers.

It was recently confirmed that the Rangers had had some preliminary discussions with Dallas officials about a new ballpark, but the conversations never went very far. For starters, the Rangers lease at Globe Life Park runs into the next decade and Dallas expressed reservations over whether the public share of a major league ballpark was within its financial limitations.

However, Arlington mayor Jeff Williams has previously stated that Dallas’ broader corporate base and greater ability to leverage private sector money could factor into negotiations. In that area, Dallas would havean edge over Arlington which, Williams argues, makes an affirmative vote in November all the more important.

In light of that, Mitchell Schnurman of the Dallas Morning News took a closer look at the claims, and imagined what a private contribution might look like:

There’s a significant difference between supporting a pro baseball stadium, which benefits rich sports owners, and contributing to improve the arts, parks and museums. Only one is philanthropy with tax benefits. And philosophically, they’re worlds apart.

Donors have helped pay for college football stadiums. T. Boone Pickens and Oklahoma State University is one high-profile example, but many doubt that a pro ballpark could pull in charitable donations.

There may be another way to tap Dallas’ wealth, said Richard Greene, a former Arlington mayor and surrogate for the campaign. He cited the many potential power brokers connected with Downtown Dallas Inc. and the Dallas Regional Chamber.

“Among those leaders are the city’s bankers, investment managers, utility company executives, real estate moguls, lawyers, accountants, news media chiefs, architects, landowners, tourism officials, oil barons, hotel owners and managers, retailers, transit officials, construction company owners and politicians,” Greene wrote in a June op-ed in the Star-Telegram.

Worried yet?

“Take a look at who these people are,” Greene wrote, without naming names. “Imagine the magnitude of their immense personal and corporate wealth. Then consider what hosting a major-league baseball team will mean to them in terms of financial gain.

Trying to tap into that base would be a separate endeavor for the Rangers who, in addition to working on a ballpark in Arlington, are also in the process of developing Texas Live!–a mixed-use entertainment complex surrounding Globe Life Park–with the Cordish Companies. That plan is expected to move forward even if November’s referendum fails, so it would give the team some development experience.

However, any proposal in Dallas–if it event gets to the point–is going require a broader framework for how to leverage corporate partnerships to close any ballpark funding gaps. If the proposed retractable-roof ballpark is approved, it will open in 2020 or 2021.

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