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12 September 2004, 03:58 PM


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17 September 2004, 05:00 PM
Double Reverse:
Who really benefits from a new Cowboys Stadium? You guessed it.

BY DAN MCGRAW/Ft. Worth Star-Telegram

What are the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders really worth? To Jerry Jones, they’re invaluable as “goodwill ambassadors” for his team. For teen-age boys, likewise, the squad’s worth may be far beyond the $15.99 it costs to put their calendar up on a bedroom wall.
But what are they worth to the City of Arlington? Well, $25.5 million per year, if you believe a consultant’s report on the benefits of a proposed new Cowboys stadium there. That’s what’s projected in a category listed as “Out-of Stadium Miscellaneous ... attributable primarily to merchandise sales, via Cowboy cheerleader special events and appearances.”

The Cowboys want Arlington taxpayers to put up about $325 million over the next 30 years to bring pro football to their city. That’s half the cost of the stadium, or about $21 million per year, to be provided mostly by a half-cent sales tax, plus new taxes on hotel rooms and rental cars. For that investment, according to the study by California-based Economic Research Associates, Arlington would get a whopping $238 million out of this deal every year for 30 years, in actual shared profits and much-needed economic development. The deal — or at least the tax increases — will be on the ballot Nov. 2, and with numbers like that, who wouldn’t vote for a new football stadium in Arlington?

But could the cheerleaders really be good for almost a tenth of that total, as the study seems to suggest? “I don’t know about that one,” said Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck, who supports the proposed stadium deal. “If you find out, let me know.”

A call to Economic Research Associates (ERA) produced no answer. Cowboys spokesman Brett Daniels said he’d look into the question. A few days later, he had an explanation. “The word ‘via’ shouldn’t be in there,” Daniels said.

In reality, the money would come from the shops at the stadium selling paraphernalia like jerseys, helmets — and cheerleader calendars. What’s more, a close reading of the study reveals that Arlington is promised only 10 percent of the “Pro Shop” profits — about $2.5 million per year instead of $25.5 million.

If that were the only strange number in the report, taxpayers might not have much to worry about. Unfortunately, the “cheerleader factor” is only one of a long list of overblown, misleading, or misstated assumptions in the report, which one sports economist called “one of the silliest studies I’ve ever seen.” Under scrutiny, layer after layer of supposed profits to the city peel away. The bottom line, according to several experts, is that, at most, a stadium like the Cowboys’ proposed new home probably would at best produce $20 to $40 million a year — and that’s for the regional economy, not for Arlington’s alone. Arlington itself might realize as little as $14.5 million a year.

Compare that to the city’s $20 million annual tax investment, and the stadium proposal, once the monetary makeup and high-sounding hair spray are washed off, looks like a pretty plain Jane, with no dowry in sight.

Who does make the money? Jerry Jones, of course. In fact, courtesy of the taxpayers, he might be getting a stadium virtually free.

‘At times, there is no great advantage to covering this issue. It all boils down to money.’
In the past several decades, as cities competed for the right to host professional sports teams, the major argument for spending tax money on stadium and arena projects has been that the team’s presence would spur economic development. It seems only logical: A sports stadium brings thousands of fans, who spend lots of money. Players earn high salaries, and surely they and the wealthy owner will invest in the community. All this new money running around creates new businesses — hotels, restaurants, bars — and new housing in the area near the stadium. And as an added bonus, the city gets plenty of free publicity through national television broadcasts, publicity that might draw more residents and more businesses.

Promoters of the Cowboys stadium plan certainly buy it. “I firmly believe that this stadium will have even more economic development than the figures in the ERA study,” said Arlington Mayor Cluck. “This is a unique area, and the Rangers’ stadium and Six Flags will create an area that will grow more housing and more businesses. Arlington is going to benefit greatly from this deal.”

Sports economists, however, cringe when they see the numbers touted in the ERA study and by folks like Cluck. “All of these studies are silly,” said Andrew Zimbalist, an economics professor at Smith College in Massachusetts, who has studied stadiums and their economic impact for decades. “The team gives the numbers, and then the economics firm ... multiplies them into huge numbers. Every team and city trying to sell this thing to voters comes up with such huge economic development numbers, and then when you look back on it years later, you find that there is never much economic development associated with a sports stadium.”

Zimbalist, who wrote the book Sports, Jobs & Taxes: The Economic Impact of Sports Teams and Stadiums, sees the Arlington/Cowboys study as much worse than many studies that have come before. “We expect the numbers to be very inflated,” he said. “But when you go through this study, they come up with figures that will not hold up to standard economic [practice]. It’s one of the silliest studies I’ve ever seen.”

Craig Depken is an economics professor at the University of Texas-Arlington and an expert in sports economics. “This stuff always sounds good in a sound bite,” he said. “The problem is that sports business is too small to have that much impact on a local economy, and most of the money spent by a team is on players’ salaries. That money is not re-spent locally.”

What Depken and the other economists have found is that the spending patterns of teams and their fans are different from citizens, say, going shopping at Wal-Mart. About half of the Dallas Cowboys’ revenues — $80 million per year — go into player salaries and benefits. Federal taxes take a large chunk out of that money. From what they take home, players tend to save more, given their short careers. And they tend to spend less of their money locally than the average worker. Just because Darren Woodson makes $4 million a year doesn’t mean he’s going to hang around the stadium ‘hood after the game to spend much of it.

Another basic problem with the economics of stadiums is the assumptions that supporters make about the money spent by fans. Stadiums that have higher economic impacts tend to be ones built in urban areas, without adequate surface parking surrounding the site. Fans must park throughout the downtown area near the stadium and walk to games. Along the way — around Jacobs Field in Cleveland or Coors Field in Denver, for instance — they stop in bars and restaurants and retail shops.

Teams like to have huge parking lots around the stadium — it’s convenient for fans, and teams make money from hefty parking fees. But such parking areas tend to become “moats” that hold down any development near the stadium. One reason The Ballpark in Arlington (now Ameriquest Field) has not sparked any surrounding development in the past decade is that fans come to games, park, go to the game, and then drive home. The preliminary plan in Arlington is for the Cowboys stadium to use some of the Rangers’ parking and add more of their own. In other words, the “moat” will spread, bringing in $10 million per year for the Cowboys, while not necessarily encouraging development outside.

What about the money that fans spend in the new stadium? The teams and cities promoting stadiums count the money spent on tickets, parking, and concessions as helping the local economy. Unfortunately, sports economists say, very little of that money comes out of the stadium into the community. “The first problem is that most of the money spent on tickets just goes into the owners’ pockets, and eventually into salaries for players,” said Mark Rosentraub, dean of the Cleveland State University College of Urban Affairs and author of the book Major League Losers. “The jobs in stadiums are part-time and don’t pay very much. The bottom line is that very little of this money makes it out into the local economy. If everything goes perfectly, if all the concession contractors are local, if housing is created near the stadium, then the best you can hope for is maybe a $20 million number.”

“But that,” he said, “would be if everything is perfect.”

The ERA study, in estimating the Cowboys’ economic impact, not only counts all of the money spent on tickets, concessions, and parking, but doubles it, on the theory that money injected into an economy “turns over” several times. According to figures supplied by the Cowboys, the new stadium should produce $106 million annually from ticket sales, parking fees, and concessions. The study claims that will put $204 million into the economy.

“For them to count ticket sales on this thing just doesn’t ring true,” said UTA’s Depken. “It is complete garbage. Most of the sales of tickets and parking go directly to the team and not into the local economy. If the companies that made beer or hot dogs were based in Arlington, there would be some impact. But I don’t know any big firms that make hot dogs or beer in Arlington. The worst thing about this is they doubled the impact with a multiplier. They should have decreased it.”

Multipliers are used to estimate how income affects an economy. If a person does business with a local company, and the business owner lives in the area and hires local people, the money spent at that business would be re-spent in the local economy. In essence, $100 spent at the business will be used to pay employees, who will use that money to pay rent and buy food, etc. The business will pay local taxes and buy services from local firms. So the $100, re-spent several times, could theoretically produce $400 or $500 worth of economic boost.

Depken and the other sports economists said that, at best, the re-spending of ticket, parking, and concession income in the Arlington economy might amount to 20 percent. “None of these multipliers they use here work in the monetary sense,” Depken said.

Cluck insists that the multipliers used weren’t high enough. But others on the Arlington council have concerns. Accountant and council member Joe Bruner questioned some of the figures in the ERA study and said the firm could not answer his questions. “I asked them to explain the difference in the numbers, and they could not explain them,” he said. “A lot of their numbers are based upon the entire Metroplex and not just Arlington. I don’t see how all this money stays in the city of Arlington. It was a quick-shot study that was based on figures already in the Cowboys’ computer.”

“I don’t think I’ll be able to support this based upon ERA’s figures,” Bruner added. Still, he voted to put the issue on the ballot. “The people have a right to vote on this and decide for themselves,” he said, regardless of whether they understand the economic facts of the proposal. “If I can read the books on this subject, then the voters can too,” Bruner said.

And that is part of the problem in putting stadium proposals on the ballot. Gauging a stadium’s impact involves complex economic issues. But to many voters, the only question is whether they like the team involved. And too often, they get little help from the news media in understanding those issues. News media companies frequently are deeply entwined with local sports teams. Piss off the home team, and you can lose viewers and readers.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram has published columns touting the major economic impact of the stadium in the editorial section (by Arlington edition publisher Gary Hardee), the business section (by columnist Mitchell Schnurman), and the sports section (by columnist Randy Galloway). “I get the feeling that the Star-Telegram is backing this,” said Wade Dennis, an Arlington resident working to defeat the stadium tax plan.

Whether the local newspaper is backing a stadium plan or not, the issue of public financing of sports facilities is often a prickly one for print and broadcast reporters. The first problem is that picking apart an economic development study, like any complex story, is tough — though by no means impossible — for tv and radio to handle. But more important is the role that sports plays in the news companies. Sports pages increase readership, Sunday night sports specials make lots of money for tv stations, and sports radio stations are at times little more than public relations tools for the teams.

Basically, news organizations are taking a big chance when they run stories on why the economic forecasts for a new stadium might be a stacked deck. A tv station running a piece on opposition to the stadium might piss off some football fans in Plano or Fort Worth or Waxahachie, viewers who have nothing to do with the election.

“It’s sometimes difficult to explain all of this in two-minute segments,” said Tom Doerr, news director at KTVT/Channel 11, which has an agreement with the team to be the “Official Cowboys Station.” “But we are not doing anything to favor the Cowboys just because we have partnered with them on pre-season games. There is a real separation of church and state here, and we will cover the news in a fair way that balances all sides of the issue.”

Still, being objective can be tough in the sports realm. During the pre-season this year, KTVT had to transfer broadcast of a Cowboys game to KTXA, the UPN station owned by Channel 11’s parent company. The announcers were KTVT sports anchor Babe Laufenberg, play-by-play man Bill Jones, and sports analyst Mickey Spagnola. Spagnola and Jones are paid by the Cowboys.

During the game, the broadcasters brought out Mayor Cluck to tell viewers why the tax plan for the Cowboys was a good thing. Jones kept saying how great it would be, telling Cluck “this is going to happen.” Spagnola told viewers that Interstate 30 and Route 360 would be improved if voters approved the plan — which isn’t part of the stadium plan. The only one not talking about the subject was Laufenberg.

“I told Babe before the broadcast that he was an employee of Channel 11 and not of the Cowboys,” said KTVT general manager Steven Mauldin. “We realized that he is part of our news department, and we didn’t want him promoting this. We have spoken with Jerry Jones, and he understands our role of covering this issue fairly.”

But Laufenberg’s experience shows the delicate nature of covering sports. Though he did not participate in the fawning over the tax plan, he was in the booth and part of the show. And if Laufenberg had decided to play devil’s advocate and criticize the stadium tax plan, he could have been punished by the team in other ways.

A sports radio host, who asked that his name not be used, told how the Texas Rangers punished his show. “Last spring, we talked about how [Rangers] owner Tom Hicks traded Alex Rodriguez to save money and how he wasn’t signing players to put a good team on the field,” the host said. “The Rangers threatened to pull the advertising off our station. And we’ve asked for players to interview on our show every week during this season, and we haven’t got one for the whole season.

“It’s not so much that the radio stations don’t want to offend any listeners who want a new stadium,” he continued. “But you have to follow the money here. If a team pulls advertising, that can be a big deal. If you can’t get players to interview on your show, you might lose some audience. So at times, there is no great advantage to covering this issue. It all boils down to the money.”

There’s nothing shocking about the fact that Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones would try to get a good deal to build his stadium. If cities like Arlington are willing to ask voters permission to pay $325 million toward his stadium, Jones would be silly not to push the envelope. It’s just good business.

How good for his business? According to Forbes magazine, the Cowboys make $50 million a year in profit. Studies have also indicated that any time a team moves into a new stadium, their profits increase significantly. A new stadium in Arlington would hold about 15,000 more seats than Texas Stadium. Ticket prices would be increased by about 15 percent. Parking — with 20,000 slots —would increase from about $20 to $36.50 per car. Jones would build nearly 400 luxury suites, priced much higher than those sold in the current stadium in Irving. Concession prices, which also feed the team’s revenues, would be higher.

According to the economic experts, if the new Arlington stadium is built, Cowboys profits will probably top $100 million a year by 2010 — double what the team is making for Jones now.

The increased profits could easily retire Jones’ share of the stadium bill, which would amount to about $20 million per year. But it’s likely that Jones’ share of stadium costs will be paid without his ever having to open his wallet. When a National Football League team builds a new stadium, the NFL provides a low-interest loan of up to $100 million to pay for it. The loan is paid back using a share of ticket revenue that otherwise would have been parceled out to other NFL teams — money that would never have come into Jones’ pocket anyway.

But the part of the agreement with Arlington that would help Jones is the ability it gives him to tax the fans and use the money to pay off his part of the loan. Here is how it works: The team would be able to place a $3 tax on every car that parks at the stadium and a 10 percent tax on every ticket sold. Jones could then use that money — an estimated $11 million a year — to retire the low-interest bonds the city floats for him. Add the NFL loan into the mix, and Jones will pay basically nothing from his pocket, while his profits double.

Those rather astounding numbers, however, don’t mean that the stadium wouldn’t benefit Arlington. Even if the parking and ticket and concession money doesn’t splash down into the local economy, the ERA study suggests that fans — after paying more than $100 for tickets, parking, and concessions inside the stadium — will spend, on average, about $45 outside the stadium each game, most of it in Arlington. But if you think the cheerleader impact numbers were weird, and Jones’ ability to get a stadium for free was obscene, the assumptions about spending by fans outside the stadium get even weirder.

If you’re a Cowboys fan and go to a lot of games at Texas Stadium in Irving, think of how often you stop in the City of Irving and spend money. If you are driving from Fort Worth, do you stop at grocery stores in Irving, get gas there, or stop in a bar to go drinking after the games? Not likely. Texas Stadium, an island within its inner moat of parking and outer moat of freeways choked with game traffic, has produced very little nearby development. Chances are great that you don’t drop a lot of money in Irving.

Things in Arlington will be different, according to the ERA study. Each ticket sold at the new stadium, the consultants said, will spawn $17.10 in spending at restaurants and drinking establishments and $13.60 spent at grocery stores, gas stations, and convenience stores. That’s about $22 million a year worth of eating, drinking, filling up the gas tank, and buying Slurpees. The study said half of this money will be dropped in Arlington and another 25 percent in other parts of Tarrant County.

ERA’s figures are based upon studies of what other teams have done. But those examples don’t necessarily work here, the experts say. Green Bay fans, for example, with longer drives to get to the stadium, may stay longer when they get there and drop a lot of money in the city. In a city like Cleveland, where fans don’t have to travel far, the gas-and-grocery spending might be much less. “How they say Arlington is going to get more than $4 million in grocery sales a year from football fans is amazing,” said UTA’s Depken.

There are also questions about ERA’s predictions on the number of Super Bowls, college bowl games, or national political conventions that an Arlington Cowboys stadium could draw. The economists interviewed said ERA’s assumptions on those events are as overblown as the other figures.

But the strangest number in the study may be the estimated income to hotels. According to ERA, $8.6 million every year will be spent on hotel accommodations by fans, news media, and visiting teams associated with Dallas Cowboys games, and half of it will be spent in Arlington itself. If room costs are figured at an average $100 per night (higher than the current average of $75) that means the new stadium will be responsible for producing 43,000 hotel nights in Arlington each year. With 10 games, that would be 4,300 hotel stays for each game.

Last year, the City of Irving did a study on the number of hotel rooms rented in connection with Cowboy football games. The number they came up with: 4,215 hotel nights — per year. The ERA study, therefore, is figuring that the Arlington stadium would produce 10 times the hotel business that Texas Stadium produces. What is even more amazing is that Arlington has about 5,000 hotel rooms in the city, meaning that 86 percent of the hotel rooms would be filled by football-related business every time the team plays.

“That hotel room number sounds really inflated,” said CSU economist Rosentraub, who also taught at UTA for many years. “It can’t be that much different from Irving. There’s not that much difference in the distance between Irving and Arlington and downtown Dallas. And the distance to the airport is about the same. In the DFW area, people have all sorts of choices in hotels where you can stay. Just because the stadium is in Arlington, it doesn’t mean you have to stay in a hotel there.”

One of the key arguments put forth by opponents of the Cowboys stadium election is what didn’t happen with The Ballpark in Arlington. In the early 1990s, Arlington voters were promised that $130 million worth of economic development would occur if they passed a sales tax hike to build the Ballpark. They did, but it didn’t. “Anyone who wants to know whether there will be economic development if the Cowboys move here can just look at what happened with the Rangers,” said Bill Eastland, another resident working against the measure. “If the city says we need this to help the economy, we have experience that says it doesn’t work.”

Cluck admits that the Rangers stadium didn’t hit economic projections, but he thinks that the new stadium fits well into the sports/entertainment plan for the city. “What we have now, with the baseball stadium and Six Flags, is a part of the city that draws people through the spring and summer,” Cluck said. Adding the Cowboys, with their fall and winter schedule, to the mix means that people will be drawn to the stadium area year-round, Cluck said — and that will make the difference in drawing businesses. “That’s why I think this will work,” he said.

Cluck does have a good point, one that even those skeptical of the stadium plan admit has merit. Even UTA’s Depken says that Arlington has hit the skids in economic development and must come up with some different plans to survive. “I think what we need to know is how this stadium fits into a larger vision that the mayor has,” Depken said. “Arlington needs to develop business in this city. A stadium cannot do that by itself. But if it is part of a larger vision, it might add a little bit to the city.”

One of the big unknowns is whether the stadium would attract new housing. Zimbalist, the Smith College economist, said the stadium will have to draw about 4,000 units of new high-end housing nearby if it’s going to attract new businesses in the area. Unfortunately, both downtown Fort Worth and downtown Dallas are booming with high-end condos right now. Will people with money to spend on new condos want to live in an area with lots of traffic and tailgate parties on weekends? Also, the cities most likely to attract housing near a new stadium are older, more urban cities, where warehouse districts get turned into housing — definitely not Arlington’s profile.

Bill Eastland just thinks the city should drop the hype. “When people decide if they want a place for an orchestra or a new park system, no one from the city tells the citizens how everyone is going to get rich over it,” he said. “In this case, they keep telling us that the reason we should approve this plan is the amount of money it will generate. No stadium has ever done that around the country, and the studies all show that.”

“If you think the Cowboys coming to Arlington will help the city’s image, or if you think that this will add to the city’s culture, then vote for the stadium,” Eastland continued. “But for the city and the team to push this as a billion dollars of economic gain is wrong. It is a big lie.”

The real issue, perhaps, is whether a Cowboys stadium is the best use for the $600 million (counting interest) that Cluck and others are willing to commit. Should the money be used for mass transit or a stadium? Should the money be used to enhance a downtown neighborhood near UTA, or should it be used for a stadium? Should the money be used for job development by drawing businesses, or should it be used for a stadium?

Another question for voters is whether Arlington is the city that would capture whatever economic benefit the stadium does produce. The ERA study admits that a lot of the spending produced by the stadium and the team would land in the bank accounts of other jurisdictions. “It should also be noted that the City of Arlington is located within close proximity to Dallas,” the study concludes. “As a result of this factor, some of the money generated by the proposed stadium development and the Cowboys may leak out of the city.”

One final irony to consider: Economic Research Associates haven’t always been on the rah-rah side for stadiums. On the company’s web site is posted a study from the mid-’90s called “Value of a Major League Sports Franchise.” And it sounds the alarm for those who think that building a sports stadium will help an area’s economy.

“[F]or economic development purposes, sports stadiums and arenas are not particularly effective in creating jobs and incomes,” the report concludes. “Compared with more traditional public investments ... in ports and factories, sports facilities are a rather poor investment. In most cities, a single substantial hotel has a greater economic impact than a major league sports facility.”

If the issue were put that way, maybe it would be easier to decide. Who would vote to raise taxes and spend more than $600 million of city money to build the economic equivalent of a hotel? But the desire to bring the Dallas Cowboys to town may be so strong that it tosses conventional wisdom and conventional economics out the window. Arlington voters may get the team they want to love — even if the only monetary winner is Jerry Jones.

17 September 2004, 05:58 PM
^LOL. Dallas is the right place for this, and at a much reduced price.

17 September 2004, 06:41 PM
Thanks, Arlington, for building a new stadium for our team.

Thanks, Arlington, for filling up our hotels, the West End, Uptown, Lower Greenville and Deep Ellum with after-game revelers.

Thanks, Arlington, for picking up the big bucks we were to pay Texas, OU, Prairie View A&M and Grambling.

Thanks, Arlington, for making Jerry Jones another billion!

City of Dallas

17 September 2004, 09:33 PM
yeah, since Jerry lives in Dallas, maybe he spends much more in Dallas with his new billion

18 September 2004, 06:58 PM
but he doesn't live in dallas

18 September 2004, 10:57 PM
ok, he lives one block from Dallas. I'd imagine he spends lots in Dallas unless Highland Park has every type of retail there is.

19 September 2004, 02:00 AM
ok, he lives one block from Dallas. I'd imagine he spends lots in Dallas unless Highland Park has every type of retail there is.

Lavishes himself in it, you mean.

19 September 2004, 10:18 AM
Not trying to nitpick on details, but the above article was from Fort Worth Weekly, not the Star Telegram.

20 September 2004, 07:18 PM
Thanks, Arlington, for freeing up our money for the Calatrava bridges to bring home the after-game crowd to world-class entertainment.

20 September 2004, 08:58 PM
ok, he lives one block from Dallas.

Which route will Jerry take on game day?

My guess:

-North on Preston
-East on Mockingbird
-South on 75
-West on 30
-Exit at Ballpark Way
-Drive into "bat cave" like tunnel under stadium

Wow, there's a good chance he'll get caught in traffic with the rest of us.

21 September 2004, 06:26 AM
Which route will Jerry take on game day?

I'm guessing he'll arrive at the stadium by helicopter.

21 September 2004, 04:26 PM
Thanks, Arlington, for freeing up our money for the Calatrava bridges to bring home the after-game crowd to world-class entertainment.

we're like a buncha bitter old men.

21 September 2004, 07:58 PM
we're like a buncha bitter old men.

Only like?

28 September 2004, 12:18 PM

Supreme Court could have last word on stadium

by O K Carter, Star-Telegram Staff Writer, 27th September 2004

The U S Supreme Court, whose justices are most likely oblivious to whether Arlington becomes the home of the Cowboys, could make a decision today that would affect use of eminent domain for such projects. A decision prohibiting use of eminent domain for such endeavors might well make land acquisition too costly, regardless of the outcome of the November 2 election.

Today, the high court is expected to conduct a private conference in which members will decide what cases they will hear in upcoming months. A decision not to hear a case means that whatever the last ruling was will stand. The case before the court most interesting to people such as Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and the Arlington City Council will be Kelo vs New London.

Basically, the issue is whether government can use eminent domain to take private property for the enhancement of other private individuals as opposed to a traditional government use like street-widening or a public library. In this case, the city of New London CT took a home as part of a redevelopment project anchored by a Pfizer research facility.

Though New London initially claimed that the area was blighted, it has since conceded that the sole purpose was for economic development. New London, incidentally, won its case before the Connecticut Supreme Court. How could this affect Arlington and the Cowboys? While some of the area that would be taken via eminent domain for the new stadium is clearly blighted, some is rather mundane but reasonably well-maintained single-family housing.

Basically, bringing the Cowboys to Arlington is about economic development, not getting rid of blight. The hope is that the U S Supreme Court will resolve this particular eminent domain issue, as the volume of cases on the subject has been building in various lesser courts in recent years. A sampling?

Last year, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled that Mesa didn't play the game properly when it used eminent domain to take a brake shop only to turn the land over to a hardware store operator. A federal judge the year before delivered a no-no to Cyprus CA for condemning church property for a new Costco.

And the findings of a 1981 case in which Wayne County MI basically wiped out a neighborhood to collect enough property to build a new automotive plant is up for review and potential overturn this month. Those lower-court cases aside, it's really now up to the U S Supreme Court to define the parameters of eminent domain and the definition of what constitutes "public use" and how elastic that use can be.

The ripple effect of the court's decision - either way - would be wide and most certainly could have a bearing on validity of taking private property for facilities such as ballparks and football stadiums.

This column contains material from the National Law Journal. O K Carter's column appears Sunday, Monday and Thursday. (817) 548-5428, okc@star-telegram.com © 2004 Star-Telegram and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.

28 September 2004, 12:59 PM
I hope the court votes for this. I think it would be great step forward. I think it time for Jerry Jones to invest in his own business and not make tax payers do so. I just don't understand how greedy one person can be ( well actually I can cuz we're seeing it ). The loop hole though that I worry about is if the project is supplemented by public funds, then how does it make the building a private building?

28 September 2004, 01:24 PM
Ha! As an aside, I like the part of that article stating there's some blight in New London, CT. No, really?

28 September 2004, 06:51 PM
I think this was done for what is it -- North Hills Mall or something (sorry don't get to Ft Worth area much). The homeowners there lost, but I guess they didn't take it much further (the government has taxpayer-funded lawyers to drive you out of the game with various motions and appeals, etc. costing many thousands to answer).

I think a stadium might/maybe/possibly qualify for eminent domain...but not a mall - a completely private enterprise.

Not that I want to give Jerry anything...

28 September 2004, 10:12 PM
The city of Carrollton has been positioning to take private property for mixed use development(s) near future DART rail stations.

If Arlington is going to take land for a Cowboys stadium, it should be the vacant land which never got developed with the Ballpark. Hicks v Jones?

28 September 2004, 10:16 PM
I think a stadium might/maybe/possibly qualify for eminent domain...but not a mall - a completely private enterprise.

However, the city of Arlington would not collect any tax from the stadium's revenue, only from the all the other development spured by the stadium.

29 September 2004, 05:37 PM
Economist: Cowboys Stadium Study A 'Joke'


ARLINGTONTexas - Voters in Arlington will decide whether to build the Dallas Cowboys a new stadium, but an economic impact study designed to help residents make their decisions is a "joke," according to some economists.

The 50-page, a $25,000 study touts the stadium deal as the key to Arlington's future economic boom, but critics counter that it's biased and baseless.

No one doubts that the proposed stadium would be nothing short of awesome -- a Cowboy fan's heaven right here on earth, but are the consultants who are predicting it will create an economic boom in Arlington using numbers from outer space?

They are, according to Craig Depken, an economist at the University of Texas, Arlington.

"Making a judgment, which is a 30-year commitment to a stadium, based on numbers that are just made up, I mean, ultimately that's what they are, I think is dangerous," Depken said.

Depken goes as far as calling the study "silly," pointing out that the study predicts that the stadium will help sell 42, 000 hotel rooms each year in Arlington, while a similar study in Irving found that just 4,200 rooms was a realistic number.

However, Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck insists that the numbers in the study are accurate.

"All the other studies don't apply to this city. They may apply to Irving, they do not apply to Arlington," he said.

Cluck does concede that one portion of the study is a mistake -- that cheerleaders would help bring in $25 million a year.

Still, he firmly believes the $650 million stadium, half of which will be paid for by Arlington, will pump nearly $200 million into the city's struggling economy.

"We're not in the stadium business. When it's built, we won't be in the stadium business. We're in the economic development business," Cluck said.

"I don't know if one stadium, one team playing 10 games a year, is equivalent to 5 percent of the Arlington economy," Depken said.

NBC 5 contacted the author of the study, but was told by his assistant that he had no comment.

29 September 2004, 05:40 PM

Flaming Moderate
29 September 2004, 08:42 PM
Judging by what I see driving by, there are enough stupid people in Arlington to vote "yes." I know Arlington is kind of back woods, but I'm shocked at the simpletons in the government there. Clearly Ameriquest Field is an fine example of this is all BS.

Flaming Moderate
29 September 2004, 08:44 PM
I suspect that this might bankrupt an already financially strapped city. Already an old suburb, without cash for infrastructure and projects that help local people, Arlington will continue its slide toward dumpsville while Jerry gets richer.

30 September 2004, 08:02 AM
Judging by what I see driving by, there are enough stupid people in Arlington to vote "yes." I know Arlington is kind of back woods, but I'm shocked at the simpletons in the government there. Clearly Ameriquest Field is an fine example of this is all BS.

I drive through Dallas everyday. I hear the news about Dallas. I see the articles about Dallas. I find stupid people there all the time. But that doesn't give a conclusion that Dallas is a stupid place.

Neither does it do that for Arlington.

30 September 2004, 08:33 AM
LOL! People here think ALL Texans are backwoods, LOL.

30 September 2004, 09:18 AM
I drive through Dallas everyday. I hear the news about Dallas. I see the articles about Dallas. I find stupid people there all the time. But that doesn't give a conclusion that Dallas is a stupid place.

Neither does it do that for Arlington.

Well said Mike. I agree.

30 September 2004, 01:00 PM
From Otis White at Governing.com

The Force Has Left Us
The Big City’s Fatal Attraction

At one time or another, the thought has occurred to leaders in every big, fast-growing suburb that, really, our community is every bit as rich and important as the city down the road. So why stand in its shadow anymore? That’s a common sentiment among leaders in Atlanta’s muscular suburb of Gwinnett County. And it’s more than just a sentiment. In recent years, Gwinnett has acquired the trappings of a separate city by building civic facilities: a convention center, a performing arts center and an arena, where a minor-league hockey and an arena football team play. The message was clear: You don’t have to drive to Atlanta anymore to have a good time. The football team, the Georgia Force, was a particular point of pride. (If you’re not a sports fan, arena football is a fast and furious version of the game. Imagine professional football played indoors on surfaces half the size of NFL fields with a couple of weird rules thrown in, like 4-point drop kicks, and you have the idea.) Alas, the Force is no longer with Gwinnett County. The new owner, Arthur Blank, is moving the team to, of all places, downtown Atlanta. Worse, Blank said the reason he’s doing this is because the team did a survey of fans and they said they’d rather drive to Atlanta to see games. “... When they had a vote on where they wanted to spend their Friday nights, their Saturday nights, their Sunday afternoons, they said let’s go back downtown,” Blank explained. Gwinnett officials reacted as if they’d been shot. “It’s going to be a great loss to the county,” said the previous owner, a Gwinnett business leader. “We have no other equivalent attraction out here in Gwinnett.” Fan sentiment aside, there was a problem with the arena in Gwinnett: It wasn’t big enough. The 11,000-seat facility was the second-smallest in the 20-team league, and attendance averaged only 9,000 a game. Blank predicted that once the team is relocated, the Force would average 17,000 or more. Maybe, but you can count out Alan Freedman for the move. A Force fan, he said he liked the suburban location. “The restaurants are just as good [as downtown Atlanta], and you’ve got free parking right there,” he said. “Downtown, it’s going to cost somebody an extra $10 or $12, and the atmosphere just isn’t the same.” Footnote: There was another blow recently to the Gwinnett independence movement: the loss of county commission Chair Wayne Hill, a prime mover behind the county’s new civic facilities. Hill was defeated for re-election this summer by a candidate who promised to slow the pace of growth in Gwinnett.

30 September 2004, 01:23 PM
Arthur Blank, is moving the team to, of all places, downtown Atlanta.

This man has done a whole lot for Atlanta, he's one rich guy who cares.

05 October 2004, 03:48 PM
Cowboys may buck stadium trend
12:39 PM CDT on Tuesday, October 5, 2004

By JEFF MOSIER / The Dallas Morning News

LANDOVER, Md. – Dallas Cowboys fans who want a glimpse of their possible future need only look north into enemy territory.

Most sports franchises are following urban pioneers back to formerly blighted inner cities to build new stadiums. But the Cowboys – like their archrival Washington Redskins did seven years ago – are shunning that path and hope to build a new home in the suburbs.

Arlington voters will decide Nov. 2 whether to pay for several tax increases to build the Cowboys' $650 million stadium. But officials here say they have no doubt about what FedEx Field has done for them.

"We're in the best economic boom we've been in," said Jack Johnson, the Prince George's County executive.

Much of the credit goes to dedicated Redskins fans who visit the stadium from across the county and from throughout the region. He estimates that the amusement taxes on each ticket sold, combined with the property taxes on the stadium, rake in more than $10 million annually. Add the restaurant meals, gasoline, hotel rooms and tailgating grub sold by local merchants, and the Redskins have been a success story for the county, Mr. Johnson said.

Although they are separated by more than 1,300 miles, the Redskins' stadium and the Cowboys' potential home are closer than many might think. Overlook the rolling hills and the ever-present Redskins jerseys, and Prince George's County looks a lot like Arlington.

It's a middle-class suburban area sandwiched between two bigger cities: Baltimore and Washington, D.C. The Maryland county made its name in the early 1970s, when it lured the NBA's Baltimore Bullets to suburban Washington.

About the same time, Arlington staked its claim to fame when it landed a Washington team – the Senators – and renamed them the Texas Rangers. Both places even have their own state universities and Six Flags theme parks.

Economic hopes

Officials in the two suburbs also have the same hope that a flood of devoted football fans would help bring prosperity.

In the Landover area, officials said that dream is starting to come true. There was little development around the stadium in the years after it opened in 1997, but that has started to turn around.

A shopping center with more than 50 stores and restaurants opened late last year just across the Capital Beltway from the stadium. It was built on the site of the old MCI Center, where the Bullets and the Capitals hockey team played before moving into nearby Washington about the same time as the Redskins arrived.

However, there isn't agreement on whether FedEx Field, which held 93,000 for last month's Monday night game with the Cowboys, is always good for business. On game days, thousands of fans park within walking distance of the shopping center, but the gridlocked traffic and maze of detours scare away shoppers with no plans to attend the game.

Despite those inconveniences, Heather Sandell, assistant general manager of Red Star Tavern, said, "We never would have moved here without the stadium."

Although sales early this season have been slower than expected on game days, Ms. Sandell expects business to pick up. She can imagine the upscale sports bar filled with hungry and thirsty Redskins fans.

At the nearby Linens 'n Things, merchandise manager Joe Balazek said his store's selection of kitchenware and other household goods isn't likely to attract Redskins fans. He expects business to take a beating during every home game because of the "debilitating traffic."

Many merchants in the area, however, said that the addition of a movie theater and a rail station, which are both under construction, will probably do much more for their business than the eight regular season and two preseason games played on their doorsteps.

The large number of Redskins fans who show up early at FedEx Field often bypass nearby businesses and tailgate in the parking lot, sometimes for hours before the game. The fare ranges from hamburgers and hot dogs to steak and lobster, from light beer to cognac. And when the game is over, many fans said they either continue their tailgate or simply head home.

Ricky Congleton, a Cowboys fan from North Carolina who attended the Monday night game, said that seeing FedEx Field illustrates why his team needs a new home. He said the Cowboys deserve a first-class stadium, just like the Redskins, and he would be willing to make the long trip to Arlington.

"Wherever they go, I'd support them," he said.

The stadium has altered the lifestyles of some nearby residents.

Jackie Beamon-Kiene, who lives in adjacent Kentland and opposes FedEx Field, said that when the Redskins are in town, the stadium paralyzes neighborhoods within a couple of miles. Those who are at home don't dare leave, and those returning from church on Sunday are in for a long wait.

"People have difficulty doing anything," she said.

Much of the stadium opposition in Landover came from nearby residents who were worried about the traffic and environmental effects of FedEx Field. The organized opposition was less widespread than in Arlington, which would have a significantly larger investment in a Cowboys stadium.

Despite traffic complaints, which fill radio talk shows the day after games, county officials said the Redskins have been good for the area. The $10 million plus in taxes the stadium brings in every year, they said, greatly outweighs the modest public money investment.

Different funding

The city of Arlington will have to measure its stadium finances with a different yardstick, though.

The $250 million FedEx Field was funded entirely by former Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke. About $70 million in public funding, most from the state, paid for road improvements and parking lots at the stadium, and the team received about $10 million in property tax breaks.

In contrast, the Arlington proposal includes as much as $325 million in tax dollars for the city's share of a Cowboys stadium. That's more than the combined tax money used for FedEx Field and to fund most of the construction of M&T Bank Stadium, home of the Baltimore Ravens.

Prince George's County officials said they have not commissioned any cost-benefit analysis for the stadium, but they said there appears to be a ripple effect in the economy. They said the main benefits are the tax dollars coming directly from the arena.

Because FedEx Field is privately owned, the Redskins have to pay property tax of about $8 million annually. In contrast, the city of Arlington would own the Cowboys' stadium, so the team would pay $2 million annually in rent instead.

Prince George's County also charges an 8 percent tax on each ticket, which puts an additional $2 million in its coffers each year. The city of Arlington could charge a ticket and parking tax, but those proceeds would go to paying off Jerry Jones' share of the stadium debt instead of the city's.

Prince George's County also receives more than $1 million a year from the Redskins to pay for the added public safety cost – most of it traffic control – when the team is in the town.

Dr. Dennis Zimmerman, an economist who has studied the public funding of stadiums, said he couldn't comment on the Redskins' venue since he had not read the contract. However, he said that voters should base their decisions on how much money from the stadium goes to the government and how much the government is spending.

In that analysis, Arlington would be spending much more money for a smaller direct benefit than Prince George's County, said Dr. Zimmerman, who was asked by Arlington stadium opponents to look at the city's deal with the Cowboys.

J. Matthew Neitzey, executive director of the Prince George's County Conference & Visitors Bureau, said that one of the greatest benefits has been the construction of a large sports complex by the Redskins. That has attracted major regional and national amateur athletic events to the county, which benefits hotels and restaurants.

"People think it's one of the best facilities on the East Coast," Mr. Neitzey said.

The fact the complex is just minutes from Washington, D.C., one of the nation's biggest tourist spots, makes it even more attractive, he said.

The Cowboys have pledged to donate $16.5 million to pay for youth athletic programs, but no decisions have been made on how that would be spent.

Economists who have studied the cost and benefits of sports stadiums have generally concluded that they aren't good investments. However, they warn that each situation should be analyzed separately. Arlington voters will have that chance to balance the costs and benefits, a task that experts can't always agree on. In Maryland, the state took a $70 million chance.

Arlington Cowboys fans' fourth-down gamble will be much higher.

E-mail jmosier@dallasnews.com

Online at: http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/localnews/stories/100504dnmetnewstadium.9865a.html

05 October 2004, 04:16 PM
Of course Jerry wants to place his stadium in a location that can accomodate plenty of parking spaces. That means more money for him. He can charge anywhere from $15 to $45 per space. . .and that adds up to a lot of money.

05 October 2004, 04:30 PM
ugh! stupid article!! We don't want examples of suburban success. If they want to write an article about suburban success, they need to write about the success of stadiums being built in innercity neighborhoods. The reason the Redskins built so far out was probably because building in the innercity is a lot harder in a place like Washington D.C. where much of the 'inner city' was layed out centuries ago and there isn't necessarily room for a stadium. In Dallas, we don't have such a layout. There's room to put a stadium in an innercity neighborhood. Jerry's just too much of a @#%@$# to wake up and do it!

05 October 2004, 04:37 PM
That's not an article of urban success. Reads more like a cheap big stadium is not creating super economic success. Remember, Arlington's mayor is on commercials proclaiming over $300 million in economic impact to Arlington alone EACH YEAR. Insane.

05 October 2004, 05:02 PM
It's ironic that we wanted the new stadium located in Fair park because we envisioned what it could do for South Dallas. However, I'm afraid that if Arlington sinks its public funds into this deal, the area around the stadium will become more like South Dallas is now, over time.

05 October 2004, 05:24 PM
I simply think an urban area could actually do something with a stadium. The land prices and proximity to daily people densities really would call for something besides just parking lots. There's simply no real incentive to in Arlington. And for them to claim all that economic impact to Arlington only. What a joke. That impact may be felt for the entire metroplex. Maybe.

05 October 2004, 06:05 PM
Arlington aims for Baltimore's success
12:38 PM CDT on Tuesday, October 5, 2004

By JEFF MOSIER / The Dallas Morning News

BALTIMORE – Much of the credit or blame for the millions of tax dollars spent annually on new sports stadiums can be traced back to this port city famed for its horse-racing and gritty crime dramas.

The Baltimore Orioles' home at Camden Yards started a stadium building boom a dozen years ago that spread across the country, including Arlington, first with the Texas Rangers and now with the Dallas Cowboys. Sports business analysts cite Baltimore's experience as the reason why so many cities pin their economic hopes on professional sports.

"People come for the day," said Alison Asti, executive director of the Maryland Stadium Authority, about local sports fans. "They don't just come for the game."

That adds up to millions of dollars in business for restaurants, shops and hotels in an area that was once filled with decaying wharfs and shuttered warehouses.

Arlington officials hope the addition of a 75,000-seat, retractable roof stadium for the Cowboys – which is on the Nov. 2 ballot – can do the same for an economically depressed area adjacent to its entertainment district. A study commissioned by the city projects that the stadium could pump $238 million into the city's economy annually, a similar figure to the estimated economic impact of the Baltimore Ravens' downtown stadium.

But some contend that the success of Camden Yards and the adjacent football stadium isn't as easily replicated in the suburban sprawl outside the central city.

When Maryland legislators approved funding in the 1980s for a new baseball and a new football stadium in Baltimore, the waterfront was not a hospitable place for tourists. However, change was already on the way.

Ms. Asti, whose agency built Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium for the Ravens, politely described the area as "underutilized."

Fans who spent a recent Sunday afternoon watching the Orioles shut out the Detroit Tigers weren't as generous.

"It was pretty horrendous," said Ron Oliver, an Orioles fan from south central Pennsylvania. He said it was a crime-ridden area that tourists avoided.

But the construction of the country's first retro-modern ballpark, its red brick warehouse motif the inspiration for Ameriquest Field in Arlington, was only part of Baltimore's downtown resurgence. Millions were already being spent to renovate the Inner Harbor, a section of southern downtown along the Patapsco River.

The waterfront was turned into a shopping district with an aquarium, science museum and convention center, all within several blocks of Camden Yards. High-end hotels, restaurants and urban homes sprung up in southern downtown.

After what is widely considered Baltimore's success, nearly half the 30 major league baseball teams – including the Rangers – have constructed new stadiums since the Orioles moved into their new home in 1992. That percentage is even higher in the NFL.

And unlike many of the stadiums built in the 1960s and '70s, the venues moved back to the city.

Ms. Asti said that one attraction, such as Camden Yards, wasn't enough. Tourists need a variety of activities to bring them to an area and keep them there.

Arlington officials cite that as a reason why a Cowboys stadium would be an economic success. The proposed site is south of the Rangers' stadium and near Six Flags and Hurricane Harbor water park.

However, promises of economic development surrounding Ameriquest Field haven't materialized in the decade since it opened. Although Ms. Asti isn't familiar with Arlington's stadium plans, she said that building massive sports venues in the suburbs is usually inefficient.

She said the key to Baltimore's success at Camden Yards was a compact development that encouraged people to park their cars and walk from location to location. If the stadium had been built outside the city, the state would have needed to pave over dozens of acres for parking lots that would insulate fans from nearby business.

Instead of building giant parking lots, they use street parking, downtown garages and mass transit to bring people in and out of the area. That leads to much smaller traffic jams than at Ameriquest Field in Arlington.

Because of the nearby attractions at the Inner Harbor, Orioles fans often show up for the game early to eat at nearby restaurants and leave late after a little shopping. That also spreads out the traffic.

Arlington officials hope a new Cowboys stadium will help bring them the same benefits.

E-mail jmosier@dallasnews.com

Online at: http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/localnews/stories/100504dnmetbaltimore.95e46.html

05 October 2004, 06:43 PM
Ok. Arlington, your being stupid. I realize that FOOTBALL well outways any importance that a stupid idiotic game of baseball has. We all know that. Every baseball fan watches football but not every football fan watches baseball. We know that. But if you want this, then you have to have restaurants in the vicinity of the stadium. Not off I30. I'm talking literally across the street. Arlington, Just pay for the stadium and build the stadium in Dallas or Fort Worth. Your starting to get ridiculous with your mouth.

05 October 2004, 10:07 PM
LOL, is Arlington trying to compare itself to the Camden Yards area? This is such a backward comparison it's not even funny.

05 October 2004, 10:15 PM
LOL, is Arlington trying to compare itself to the Camden Yards area? This is such a backward comparison it's not even funny.

But some contend that the success of Camden Yards and the adjacent football stadium isn't as easily replicated in the suburban sprawl outside the central city.

By george, I think he's got it!

and... ah, okay. http://www.dallascowboyspark.com/ no longer exists for some reason. :confused: maybe they named it? I'd love to see something like "Preparation H Park" or the "Depends MegaDome."

06 October 2004, 12:06 AM
By george, I think he's got it!

and... ah, okay. http://www.dallascowboyspark.com/ no longer exists for some reason. :confused: maybe they named it? I'd love to see something like "Preparation H Park" or the "Depends MegaDome."

Ha ha ha ha ha! That made my night.

06 October 2004, 02:21 PM
Ok. Arlington, your being stupid. I realize that FOOTBALL well outways any importance that a stupid idiotic game of baseball has. We all know that. Every baseball fan watches football but not every football fan watches baseball.
Talk about an overgeneralization.

06 October 2004, 04:23 PM
I was just poking at baseball fans. I don't mean a word of it....except "Arlington, your being stupid".

06 October 2004, 04:23 PM
I wish I wasn't OCD about grammar and SPELLING.


Then again, I can't spell the word "retarded," which is rather ironic.

06 October 2004, 06:13 PM

Posted on Wed, Oct. 06, 2004

Stadium drawing NFL's support

By David Wethe
Star-Telegram Staff Writer

You can now add Paul Tagliabue, commissioner of the National Football League, to the growing list of supporters for a new $650 million retractable-roof stadium for the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington.

The commissioner plans to tour the city Oct. 16-18 with Mayor Robert Cluck and Tarrant County Judge Tom Vandergriff and listen to their plans for hosting a Super Bowl.

He also plans to catch a youth football game and a Cowboys game, and talk to the Arlington Chamber of Commerce and the Convention & Visitors Bureau.

"The purpose of the trip is to support the stadium initiative," said league spokesman Greg Aiello. "The Super Bowl is part of the discussion in terms of what this new stadium has the potential to host. The hosting of a Super Bowl now has serious potential."

The NFL requires that stadiums hold at least 70,000 people and not be affected by inclement weather. The 2011 Super Bowl is the earliest one the new Cowboys stadium could be eligible to host if it is open by the 2009 season.

"I want [Tagliabue] to see what the road improvements will be like, where the ballpark is, the location where we're proposing this thing be built and the possible synergy between the two," Cluck said.


Town hall meetings

Arlington has scheduled five town hall meetings to discuss its effort to help pay for a $650 million stadium for the Dallas Cowboys. Tonight's meeting is scheduled for 6:30 at Nichols Junior High School, 2201 Ascension Blvd. District 1 Councilman Joe Bruner will be the host.
David Wethe, (817)548-5522 dwethe@star-telegram.com

06 October 2004, 06:41 PM
I wish I wasn't OCD about grammar and SPELLING.


Then again, I can't spell the word "retarded," which is rather ironic.
OCD? What?

06 October 2004, 08:08 PM
Then again, I can't spell the word "retarded," which is rather ironic.

Hah! I knew it was a musician thing!

OCD? What?

Obsessive - Compulsive (Disorder). I'm borderline; it goes along with the Asperger Syndrome.

06 October 2004, 08:33 PM
I know what OCD is. I just didn't get the context.

06 October 2004, 11:06 PM
I know what OCD is. I just didn't get the context.

Someone said "outways" instead of "outweighs" and then said "your" instead of "you're" twice.

I'm not really OCD.. at least, I've never been 'diagnosed' with it. I've also never been 'diagnosed' with aspergers, but i'm pretty dang sure I have that too.

Hah! I knew it was a musician thing!


06 October 2004, 11:58 PM
Ritard. Retard. Musicians! Surely you know what I'm talking about.

07 October 2004, 06:54 AM
Someone said "outways" instead of "outweighs" and then said "your" instead of "you're" twice.

Your right. I just ain't getnit right.