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Dallas is being reborn without an Arena

The Dallas Morning News, February 18, 1998

There is conjecture that Tom Hicks is planning a Dallas satellite sports complex in Arlington for the Stars, Rangers, and Mavericks. If this is true it is a brilliant idea. Every successful metropolitan area has different regions making specialized contributions. Dallas is known for having the finest hotels, restaurants and shops. Arlington is known for its sports and theme parks: Rangers, Six Flags and Wet and Wild. With all Dallas owners the teams would have a Dallas identity and Arlington would bear the cost.

Dallas is booming and downtown is booming. Business journals across the country have announced that downtown Dallas is experiencing a resurgence. They report that office towers have tripled in price, thousands of lofts and residences are being built, and developers are excited by the prospect of creating new projects downtown.
Arlington in the mean time has already set aside land for the massive parking lots required for sports events. Several teams could cross utilize these parking lots which is an environmentally friendly approach. In contrast, massive parking lots downtown cause a barrier and empty stadiums a blight on emerging and expanding retail and residential activity downtown.

Proponents for Dallas paying over a $100,000,000 to the eventual owners of the arena have talked about how an arena helped Cleveland when Cleveland was dead. Dallas is not Cleveland and Dallas is not dead. Dallas, in contrast, is thriving. This is not because of a single point developer doing a theme arcade around an arena. Dallas is thriving because of many small and large developers creating a vibrancy by filling retail and residential niches that play off each other. The excitement of urban life comes from the density of people enjoying the myriad of possibilities that urban life offers. People do not clamor to live next to an arena, next to a parking lot, or in an area that is routinely assaulted by the traffic congestion a sports event causes.

Dallas needs people congestion not traffic congestion. If Tom Hicks elects to put an arena next to the Rangers Ball Park, the TU site will be available for new restaurants, residences and office space spilling over from the West End, Deep Elm, Uptown and the McKinney Avenue corridor.

Dallas has the excitement and economic momentum to realize its goals for an energized downtown. A new arena downtown will be yet another huge structure downtown that is empty most of the time.

If in the upcoming referendum Dallas declines to participate in the building of an Arena we are probably doing Ross Perot and Tom Hicks a huge favor. We are also clearing the way for the success of downtown Dallas to continue.

Without having to spend time on an arena the City Manager and Mayor will have more time to determine how to best allocate part of this potential $100,000,000. They might preserve or create new tax incentives for saving downtown historic buildings or tax incentives for creating new residences, retail or restaurants downtown.

Regardless of the money spent or the money saved, Dallas should continue to build on its strengths. Let Arlington have the arena. Let Dallas keep its Downtown momentum.

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