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Backers of Arlington stadium plan say poll shows wide support

Backers of a proposal to use tax money to help fund a $1 billion, retractable-roof new home for the Texas Rangers released poll results Tuesday showing a 14-point margin of support among Arlington voters for the Nov. 8 ballot item.

Vote Yes! Keep the Rangers, the main political action committee supporting the stadium, said its survey of 400 likely voters, conducted Sept. 23-25, showed support leading opposition 54 percent to 40 percent. The survey, by the national pollster Public Opinion Strategies, has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.

Voters are being asked to commit $500 million in city funding by extending a half-cent sales tax, 2 percent hotel-occupancy tax and 5 percent car-rental tax, which are now paying off the city’s share of AT&T Stadium’s construction cost.

“Our citizens understand the importance of the Rangers as an economic engine and a real anchor to Arlington’s tourism,” said Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams, who also chairs the Vote Yes! Keep the Rangers campaign. “We are talking about the economic vitality of our community being threatened if we don’t pass this.”

We are talking about the economic vitality of our community being threatened if we don’t pass this

Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams

Opponents accuse the city of exaggerating the projected economic benefits of a new stadium and the likelihood that the Rangers would leave Arlington without it. They note that the city’s lease with the Rangers doesn’t expire until 2024.

Last week, the opposition campaign called Save Our Stadium released its own poll, conducted by a firm called DHC Data, showing opponents leading supporters by 46.5 percent to 38.9 percent among likely voters.

Warren Norred, a spokesman for the Citizens for a Better Arlington PAC and Save Our Stadium, questioned the accuracy of the new Vote Yes! poll.

“I do know we’re going to have a lot of new voters,” Norred said. “One thing we can agree on is that the Cowboys won (the public vote for their stadium) with 55 percent, and we got a new stadium and a new team that we didn’t have before. This deal replaces a bigger building with a smaller building.”

Also, Tuesday, Save Our Stadium announced that the Texas Ethics Commission has accepted jurisdiction over some of the PAC’s claims that the city and Vote Yes! have “published false and misleading campaign material.”

Vote Yes! confirmed it has received a letter from the commission about its decision.

An ethics commission spokesman said he could neither confirm nor deny any commission action. But he emphasized that a jurisdiction decision is unrelated to the merits of a complaint.

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