New Rangers stadium could cost Arlington more than expected

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The Texas Rangers plan to build a brand new baseball stadium in Arlington on the promise of splitting the cost 50/50, costing the city roughly $500 million. A big swing and a miss on that estimate, says WFAA in Arlington.

The original cost of the stadium was said to be $1 billion, but an investigative study by WFAA reveals the total cost of the stadium could rise to $1.675 billion over a 30-year span, which would cost more than the originally reported $500 million in a 50/50 split. Did the Rangers throw the city a changeup?

“This is totally one-sided,” said Arlington attorney Jim Runzheimer. “This has to be close the best deal ever cut in favor of a professional sports franchise and a government entity. It’s incomprehensible.”

The city of Arlington is preparing to vote on a tax hike that will help fund the stadium. The Arlington City Council unanimously approved an agreement in May for the stadium but now the hope is to fund the stadium by increasing sales taxes, rental car taxes and hotel taxes just as they did to construct AT&T Stadium for the Dallas Cowboys. The city still says the $500 million will be the max provided for the stadium construction, but the investigative story suggests the Rangers are fully capable of providing more toward building the stadium over time.

For example, the Rangers own the naming rights to the stadium, although the stadium will be owned by the city. The Rangers could potentially receive $12 million per year for the naming rights, with $2 million going to the city to pay the rent. The story calculates the Rangers could rake in $300 million over 30 years through the naming rights. That would be enough to pay Alex Rodriguez’s clone down the line though, so it’s not like the money won’t go toward building a stronger baseball team too.

Even more complicated and troubling for the city is the interest the city may have to pay on bonds to help fund the stadium expenses.

“Projections are exceedingly early, but it is estimated that $500 million in city bond debt would cost $900 million to $1.1 billion over 30 years, when accounting for fees and interest,” Arlington city spokeswoman Susan Schrock wrote in response to questions from WFAA-TV. “All this is dependent upon interest rates at the time of a bond sale.”

Fans and citizens in Arlington are reportedly split on the decision to approve the tax hikes, but this is just another reminder how much stadiums can cost a city. It is almost always a raw deal for the city, and there’s almost nothing that can be done about it.