Ballparks and stadiums often end up costing more than initially projected. Things happen, costs spiral and the optimism of the groundbreaking eventually gives way to the realities of construction schedules.
In Texas they haven’t even turned one shovel of dirt on the Rangers new ballpark yet, but it’s already costing taxpayers more than they were initially told it would. Not because of cost overruns, however, but because the taxpayers were basically lied to.
As this report from WFAA-TV makes clear, the Rangers and public officials sold the new stadium as a 50-50 split between the team and taxpayers. It turns out, however, that a big chunk of tax revenue — ticket and parking taxes which almost always go to the government and are used to fund the public’s share of a stadium project — are being handed over to the Rangers who will us it to fund their “50 percent” share. As Barry Petchesky of Deadspin characterizes it:
So Arlington is on the hook for its pledged $500 million, plus another $300 million that it ought to be raising from tickets and parking that will instead go right into the Rangers’ owners’ pockets. Those owners will ultimately have to pay just $200 million of their own money to get their fancy-ass new ballpark.
It’s rare that anything in these publicly-financed ballpark deals surprises me anymore. But this one actually surprises me. The audacity of the cash grab/giveaway and the contempt officials have for the public in selling this as a 50-50 split is simply remarkable.