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Thursday, July 29, 2004

A Cowboys Stadium in Arlington?!?

This past week has been interesting but frustrating. Evidently the Arlington city council has been talking to Jerry Jones about building a new stadium here for the Cowboys - initial estimated costs $300 million for the city. This is not the first time Arlington has been mentioned - we were "considered" by Jerry Jones a couple of years ago - but it is NEWS that our elected officials have been in super-secret talks with Jones about a stadium deal.

Saturday was the first we heard of it in the paper. If you are familiar with the standard "Economic benefits" reason for building a stadium, rest assured that we have that. But there are a couple of new reasons for picking Arlington: 1) We already have the Texas Rangers; 2) We have room under the state sales tax limit; 3) We are the largest tax base in the metroplex that will be able to pay.

Great, Arlington is in fiscal disarray and we need to build a stadium for the Cowboys. The rest of the cities in the metroplex are so heavily taxed or are too small to pay for the stadium so it is only "fair" that Arlington pay for the stadium. Officials in Ft. Worth are understandably excited - they get a new stadium in Tarrant County and they don't have to pay for it. People in Dallas are excited - they get to attend games in a new stadium and they don't have to pay for it. The only ones who seem to have been overlooked are Arlingtonians.

We have voted down tax increases for flood control, downtown development, and mass transit. We barely passed bonds for road repair last year. It is far from obvious that a vote would pass this time around (the Ballpark only coast $165 million not $300 million), but I wouldn't be surprised if it did pass - even while Arlington has to shut down neighborhood pools because it can't find $30,000 to keep them open.

What's in it for Arlington? Beyond the stale "economic development" arguments that were used for the Ballpark (and of course never materialized), supposedly Arlington become a world class city - hosting the Dallas Cowboys (no sense of irony?), Arlington will get to host a Superbowl, an NCAA final four, the UT-0U game, the Cotton Bowl, one or two DNC or RNC national conventions, and a whole bunch of other stuff. The people who think these events are coming to Arlington, Texas, are smoking dope.

Arlington has fifteen-hundred restaurants and something more than 1,000 are fast-food restaurants. We have no hotel space, we have Six Flags but nothing else to see or do except for Gentleman's Clubs. Ft. Worth is fifteen miles to the west, Dallas is twenty five miles to the east - there is nowhere to stay in Arlington, nowhere to eat, nothing to see. No mass transit, no cab company, nothing, nothing, nothing.

The upshot: no superbowl, no NCAA final four, no national conventions.

Colleague Mike Ward and I sent off an op-ed piece to our local paper - it hasn't made it in yet, but we hope to but some sanity into the debate.

The city council has pulled a "Tommy Franks" and is moving quickly on the stadium proposal. Since it was "leaked" on Saturday, the council is promising to have an (easily predictable) economic impact study done by mid-August. They are trying to get the stadium proposal on the ballot this November.

If Arlington votes yes, I will move out of Arlington but I am afraid that home values in surrounding areas will already have gone up in price. Why vote for Republican/Libertarians at the local, state, or national level, when this is what we get in return.

News articles since Sunday alone:

Website seeks input on stadium funding
Huge Turnout Expected for Vote
City Council Weighs Stadium Deal
Stadium could be risky play
Dallas vs. Arlington
Arlington Strikes Deal
Arlington, Cowboys in exclusive talks

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