At 7:03 p.m. Friday, Arlington becomes the center of the baseball universe.
Just to be clear, it’s not in Dallas where the Texas Rangers host Game 1 of the World Series at Globe Life Field. Nor is it in Fort Worth, though it’s more often that the Big D is mistakenly attached to the team’s name, as Sen. Ted Cruz was mocked for doing Monday on social media.
The glory — and the global spotlight — will shine on Arlington, and longtime residents of the seventh largest city in Texas couldn’t be more thrilled.
A lot has changed in Arlington since the Rangers won their first American League pennant in 2010. For one thing, the team will take on the Arizona Diamondbacks in the new stadium that opened in 2020, surrounded by a thriving and growing entertainment district that is proving to be an economic engine for Arlington. Billions of dollars in development is under construction in the district, including a hotel, museum and luxury apartments.
Hosting the first two games in the World Series, and possibly games 6 and 7, is a huge win for the local economy — and the city’s image.
Mayor Jim Ross was ecstatic this week.
“It puts more heads in the beds and we get more people staying in Arlington, more people eating in our restaurants and more people drinking at Texas Live!, more people having fun and spending money here in Arlington,” Ross told the Star-Telegram.
“And we love other people’s money.”
The attention also helps set Arlington apart from its two larger neighbors in the Metroplex and “give Arlington its own identity,” Ross said.
Still, folks in Arlington are willing to share some of that glory.
“I say that with a great deal of pride that this is Arlington, but this is a team that is for all of North Texas,” Ross said. “When we throw out our community first pitch, we bring civic leaders, community leaders, Mayor Parker and others to come out and throw the pitch with us, because we believe it’s a community effort. We’re not so self-centered to think this is just Arlington, because it’s not. We happen to be where the Rangers have grown, but we share all of this with all of North Texas and we’re happy to.”
“I was like, ‘Taylor mentioned my name!’” Ross joked. “I was very excited about that.”
As Arlington grows rapidly, Ross said he and city leaders have had to pull back on the reins to make sure that growth is the “right kind of growth.” Ross said a number of business entities have expressed interest to come to the Arlington entertainment district, but the city has said no because they weren’t a good fit.
“We’re very selective to make sure the type of growth that we’re bringing is something that the Cowboys, the Rangers, the Loews Hotel, the Texas Live!, the Cordish Companies, the Six Flags, that we’re all in this together,” Ross said. “And we want to make sure that we’re all benefiting from that growth simultaneously.”
Sporting a Rangers jersey over his button-up dress shirt, Ross was the keynote speaker at Arlington’s State of the City luncheon on Wednesday. Ross discussed Arlington’s success this past year and opportunities for future growth.
Nearly 2,000 businesses have moved to or started to move to Arlington during the past two and a half years, Ross said, and the city has more than $4 billion of private investment in the development pipeline.
The pipeline includes a $295 million renovation of AT&T Stadium, the upcoming opening of the $550 million Loews Arlington Hotel and Convention Center, the $230 million National Medal of Honor Museum and the One Rangers Way luxury apartment complex.
“The Rangers have a long history of great support in Arlington,” Morgan said. “Because of that support, all of you, all Ranger fans, deserve the celebration of a lifetime. If things go right, my life’s pretty much going to be complete.”
Morgan praised the growth in Arlington’s entertainment district happening just across the street from Globe Life Field.
“That growth and support from the community and city will continue to electrify the entertainment district for years to come,” Morgan said at the State of the City luncheon.
Since the Rangers clinched the pennant against the Houston Astros on Monday night, there’s a palpable energy across the city. At the end of the luncheon inside Esports Stadium, the more than 600 civic and business leaders stood to chant “Let’s Go, Rangers!”