Heavy Lifting - thoughts and web finds by an economist
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Monday, January 31, 2005

How long will the 'Boys be in Arlington?

The new "master agreement," just now being released to the Arlington City Council (but not yet to the public), is supposedly the same as was proffered back in November except for one big difference: the initial lease is for 30 years, next is a 10 year option, after that comes six five year options.

Headline on local 10:00PM news? "Cowboys could be in Arlington for the next 70 years!"

70 years!? How the news anchor read the script with a straight face is beyond me.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram called this evening for a comment on the 70 year plan. I predicted the new stadium would likely not last thirty years, much less 70 years, and therefore such projections about how long the Cowboys will stay in Arlington are silly. I then suggested that the city of Arlington and the Cowboys could have included 400 years of options for all they are truly worth - we'll see if that makes it into the paper.

Here was my off-the-cuff list of 70+ year old stadiums: The Rose Bowl, Soldier Field, Fenway Park, and Wrigley Field (more stadium information is here). A few other stadiums made it to the 70 year mark before being torn down, but such stadiums are today's exception not the rule.

In Dallas, Reunion Arena was built in 1983 and was obsolete by 1998 when the city voted to fund American Airlines Arena. In Arlington, the old Turnpike Stadium, renamed Arlington Stadium, was built in 1965 and hosted the Rangers for 21 years before Arlington had to build a new stadium.

The 70 year prediction is the latest in a long list of "benefits" our fair city can expect from hosting the Cowboys. I think this is one of the "intangible benefits" that Jerry Jones predicted, immediately after the November vote, for the city of Arlington.

Oh yeah, on Saturday (Feb. 5) Arlingtonians get to vote on Wine/Beer sales (yes!) and whether to freeze property taxes for Arlington residents 60 years and older (no!). The former is incorrectly justified on tax revenues, is panned because it will allow Satan into the local Kroger, but should be supported on a natural-rights basis.

As for the tax freeze, the elderly suggest that they can't afford increasing property taxes (but I can?) and therefore they shouldn't be forced to pay more.

Where to start with this?

First, all those who voted NO for the stadium should have their taxes frozen. Second, the elderly are smart if not overly quick. Most of the elderly were against the stadium, so as soon as they lost that political fight, they gathered enough signatures to propose their tax freeze. Didn't one of our Founding Fathers warn against one group voting themselves (or should he have said 'their') money from the treasury?

I don't mind giving the seniors a tax freeze if we go ahead and cut back on the services we offer the elderly, but that won't happen. I would expect the proposition to pass, after all a special election on SATURDAY February 5? Once the tax freeze passes, I would then expect the elderly to immediately start demanding more services for themselves.

The city of Arlington...insanity rules. Our multi-year city deficit of $16m per annum means we can afford $20m of sales tax dollars for a new stadium. $20m of sales tax dollars for a new stadium will mean big increases in local property taxes (Texas has no income tax and a state limit on the sales tax), which motivates the seniors to remove any potential increase in their property taxes from local revenues.

If the tax freeze passes, here are those who will benefit from the stadium: a) Jerry Jones; b) our Mayor and his allies; and c) the old folks. Those who take it in the pants for the new stadium: a) anyone who shops in Arlington; b) anyone stupid enough to stay in an Arlington hotel rather than staying in Ft. Worth (8 miles away) or Grand Prarie (1/2 mile away); c) anyone who rents a car in Arlington rather than in Ft. Worth (8 miles away), or Grand Prarie (1/2 mile away), or DF/W Airport (10 miles away), or Euless, or Bedford, or Hurst, or Mansfield (okay, sorry); and d) anyone who decides to own property or try to live in Arlington.

Note: Cross posted at Division of Labour.

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