The Rangers Were Never Going to Move to Dallas

It was made up. The fantasy that the Rangers would leave their comfy suburban confines for Dallas' rough and tumble streets was never going to happen. It was a media story built around the wisp of a rumor that the club and the city were holding some back-channel meetings.  People like Downtown Dallas Inc. President John Crawford were all too happy to pimp the dream further, suggesting to The Dallas Morning News that now was the time to talk about getting the Rangers to move to Dallas when their lease runs out in eight years. That's how long it would take to build the retractable-roofed paradise for which the team supposedly yearns. The Rangers, speaking for themselves, were coy, issuing "no comments" through spokesman John Blake.

This week, the team and the city of Arlington definitively put that dream to rest with the tentative approval and official announcement of the ridiculously named, $200-million Texas Live! development. Slated to be completed in 2017, it'll occupy land currently occupied by Parking Lot A.

"The Rangers are proud to be partnering with Arlington on this very significant project," Rangers' co-owner Ray Davis said in announcing the development. "Commercial development around Globe Life Park in Arlington has been a vision of the Rangers for a number of years. We are also extremely pleased to have selected The Cordish Companies as our development partner to help us fulfill this vision. We join with the city of Arlington and Cordish on a commitment to deliver the leading sports and entertainment district in the country."

Texas Live!, developers said Wednesday, might end up being the Arlington city center that was envisioned when the ballpark opened 21 years ago. The public/private partnership — the city is expected to kick in $50 million to help build the project and up to $50 million more in hotel tax breaks — will include a 100,000-square-foot entertainment complex, a 300-room hotel and a 35,000-square-foot annex to the Arlington Convention Center, which is adjacent to the ballpark.

“This is what we believe is the first step of what will be many steps,” Cordish Companies Vice President Blake Cordish said. “There is a potential for a new epicenter, a new town. Arlington has talked about that for several decades. Now it’s finally happening.”

Cordish, based in Baltimore, suggested that the development could wind up being something like the Cordish company-designed St. Louis' Ballpark Village. That project is built around the St. Louis Cardinals' downtown stadium, a Midwest-friendly version of Victory Park.

The talk about the Rangers' picking up stakes surely helped the Arlington City Council make its initial decision on the project. On Tuesday the council unanimously directed city staff to draw up the funding package that will tie the team to Arlington, potentially far beyond the expiration of the Rangers' lease in 2024. The council emphasized that the city was going to pay cash for its part in the development. Taxes will not be raised.

"This project is another significant investment in an Arlington economy that already has tremendous momentum," Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams said in a press release. "This state-of-the-art development will expand the city's ability to host even more major events and conventions. We greatly appreciate the Texas Rangers' continued investment in our community and we applaud their selection of The Cordish Companies, the premier mixed-use developer in the country, as their development partner."

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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young