Days after voters overwhelmingly approved using a half-cent sales tax to help build a new stadium for the Texas Rangers, the mayor said the venue will open a year earlier than expected.
"The Rangers are moving ahead with trying to be open with the new ballpark in the season of 2020,” said Mayor Jeff Williams, Arlington, on WFAA’s Inside Texas Politics Sunday morning.
Originally, the team projected 2021 as the first season it would move into its new ballpark.
“They have been working to see how they can streamline it. They really want to be open by 2020,” added Williams. The team’s lease on Globe Life Park doesn’t expire until 2024.
Tuesday night, citizens voted 60 percent to 40 percent to shift a half-cent sales tax from construction of AT&T Stadium where the Dallas Cowboys play to build a new ballpark for the Rangers.
The Major League Baseball team has had decreasing attendance over the last few years. It wanted a new stadium with a roof because of sweltering temperatures during summer games.
Globe Life Park, the team’s current home, was built in 1994. The Rangers said they plan to repurpose it, though plans have yet to be created.
A new stadium with a roof means the city can also use it to attract and host a number of other events year-round when baseball is not being played, said Mayor Williams.
Still, the campaign for the new stadium was harsh at times. Mayor Williams was asked whether he regretted how any of it unfolded.
"You always are concerned about these referendum elections,” he said. “Now is our time to come together – for all of our citizens to come together despite how they voted.”
The mayor said he thought other cities in North Texas were interested in luring the team if this vote failed.
“The Rangers have become one of the top Major League franchises around. This was our opportunity to not have to bid against other cities but for us to move ahead and ensure our future for the next 40 years and to keep it within our budget because we could do it earlier,” explained Williams.
“If we were to build this in 2024 when the lease is up we'd be talking about a billion-and-a-half dollars. Construction costs continue to go up. We're able to do it faster, get it done earlier at a lower cost and we get our revenue started.”
The team has already broken ground on a large hotel and retail development next to the stadium called "Texas Live!," which is expected to open by Opening Day of the 2018 season.