We end 2016 with a countdown of the 10 biggest stories of the year on Ballpark Digest, as chosen by editors and partially based on page views. Today, #2: The Texas Rangers secure a plan for a new ballpark.
In 2016, the Texas Rangers came out with a bold proposal to replace Globe Life Park with a new, retractable-roof ballpark in Arlington. The $1 billion concept proved to cause some contention but, in the end, Arlington voters approved it by a wide margin, kick starting a new era for the Rangers.
There were signs at the end of 2015 that new ballpark talks could on the table. At that point, the Rangers were working with The Cordish Companies and Arlington officials on Texas Live!, a sprawling entertainment complex outside of Globe Life Park. While planning this, the team was also looking ahead to its future, which included a lease for its current ballpark that was to expire in 2023.
In May, shortly after it was announced that construction on Texas Live! was being delayed, it was revealed that the Rangers were pursuing a retractable-roof ballpark to replace Globe Life Park, which only opened in 1994. Shortly thereafter, details on the proposal emerged, including its $1 billion price tag and funding model, which called for the City of Arlington to extend taxes used for AT&T Stadium (a half-cent sales tax, 5 percent car rental tax and 2 percent hotel tax) to cover $500 million of the ballpark’s construction and the Rangers would chip in the remainder.
With the proposal needing approval through a November voter referendum, it did not take long for the ballpark to become a source of controversy. Proponents argued that no new taxes were in play and that the ballpark was necessary to keep the Rangers from moving to Dallas, while opponents argued that the Rangers were not going anywhere and that the new ballpark would amount to wasteful spending.
Over time, some other details emerged about Globe Life Park. The Rangers presented a previous studies that said that adding a roof to the existing ballpark was not feasible. Additionally, the team confirmed that Globe Life Parkwas not slated for total demolition and would be repurposed in some form.
While the relatively new age of Globe Life Park remained an issue for some, the referendum still passed by a wide margin on Election Day. Up to that point, the ballpark was slated to open in either 2020 or 2021, but the Rangers said after the vote that they intended to pursue a 2020 opening.
For now, there will be years of anticipation leading up to the new ballpark’s opening. In the meantime, there will be plenty of discussion about what can be for the Rangers as they prepare for their new facility.
Previously in our Top Ten Stories of 2016 List:
#10: Savannah Bananas