Arlington City Council members voted this week to rename Ditto golf course in north Arlington the Texas Rangers Golf Club. While the move to rename the 18-holer passed unanimously, the perks accompanying the deal raised a few eyebrows.
When it opened in '82, the course — at 801 Brown Blvd., near Arlington’s entertainment district — was given the name Ditto for longtime Arlington resident Chester W. Ditto. It is undergoing a massive renovation and is expected to reopen this summer.
Few citizens were present during the City Council meeting Tuesday night. One resident spoke in favor of the renaming; another spoke against it.
Scott VanRavensway, who says he learned of the course’s renaming earlier that day, showed up to voice his displeasure. VanRavensway said his Bowman relatives have received naming recognition in Arlington, and for all he knows, that may someday be replaced by the Texas Rangers brand as well.
"Apparently, the City of Arlington is the government arm of the Rangers now." – Warren Norred on Facebook
VanRavensway cautioned that the city may be welcoming a lawsuit because of the swap of golf rounds and Texas Rangers baseball tickets mentioned during the session. VanRavensway then had a friendly spat with a city attorney about whether everything about the deal was open and acceptable.
“Let the record show that I’m opposed,” he said in the end.
Others expressed themselves on social media. Some praised Arlington’s progress while others called the deal “cronyism at its extreme.”
“The City of Arlington is voting today to essentially operate Ditto Golf Course on behalf of the Rangers after spending about $20M to refurbish it, with a renaming and freebie use,” Arlington attorney Warren Norred posted on Facebook. “Apparently, the City of Arlington is the government arm of the Rangers now.”
Norred and VanRavensway both referred to Section 3, Article 52, of the Texas Constitution, which, according to justia.com, says in part that “the Legislature shall have no power to authorize any county, city, town or other political corporation or subdivision of the State to lend its credit or to grant public money or thing of value in aid of, or to any individual, association or corporation, whatsoever.”
During the council meeting, Mayor Jeff Williams said he wanted to assure everyone that the Texas Rangers would not own the renovated municipal golf course. It would still belong to the City of Arlington, which would benefit from the “no-cost” use of the major league baseball team’s name.
Council members made an amendment requiring the golf course’s clubhouse to retain the Ditto family’s name before voting to rename the course the Texas Rangers Golf Club.