Sunday, May 29, 2016

Still Shocked by New Texas Rangers Stadium Handout...but Probably Not as Much as Texas Teachers

If you thought the Braves lucked into a generous, super-secret, behind-closed-doors stadium deal to replace a 20ish-year-old facility...wait until you read up on what the Texas Rangers did!

It takes a lot of gall to demand replacing your already-modern stadium with a billion-dollar replacement...except it seems the Rangers didn't even have to try that hard. The city of Arlington worked (in secret) to negotiate paying half of the $1B price tag on a new property tax breaks - for The Roofed Ballpark at Arlington, or whatever they'll call their newer, better, beast that will protect them from having to play baseball outdoors.

Then, just four days later - because clearly, that's sufficient time for the public to vet and debate the deal - Arlington's city council unanimously approved the package (which even came with the traditional boilerplate questionable economic impact study!).

ALSO READ: Hillsborough Co.'s chief stadium negotiator wants a secret deal too

When it came to the Braves' super-secret deal, the silver lining is that it didn't take long for the handouts to threaten the jobs of the responsible politicians. And the silver lining in the Rangers' deal is the voters will still have a say on it at the polls...albeit it, a referendum where the deck can now be stacked against them by the team, columnists, and countless other political forces.

But, as Field of Schemes' Neil deMause writes:
This is a textbook case of “How to game a stadium vote,” and kudos to Rangers owners Ray Davis and Bob Simpson for pulling it off — though the Arlington council really deserves an assist for making it as easy as possible for them to do so. Next time you’re wondering if the real cause of the sports subsidy scam is greedy owners or craven politicians, the answer is: yes.
There wasn't enough good analysis on the deal from the shell-shocked Dallas/Fort Worth media, but one column worth reading is from Star-Telegram columnist Mac Engel, who frankly sends mixed signals on the $500M in handouts....but at least he acknowledges how silly it seems to do this deal right now, long before it became necessary:
This deal is another example of our maddening paradox that makes up a large chunk of the U.S. economy; we are told to save and not buy “stuff we don’t need” and yet our financial system cracks and stalls because we are not buying “stuff we don’t need.”
A new baseball stadium in Arlington is more stuff we don’t need.

For Arlington, keeping the Rangers is always good for morale and pride, both of which have value. But at this price? Arlington plans to commit its taxpayers to a toy costing them $450 million when it already had a perfectly good one paid off.
I am only 500 percent certain, if you ask Arlington ISD school teachers and administrators, that their respective buildings and classrooms are in actual need of supplies and upgrades, but to hell with them. The Rangers need a roof.

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