Voters in Arlington are split on a ballot measure that would fund a new retractable roof baseball stadium for the Texas Rangers, according to results released Sunday from an exclusive WFAA / Star-Telegram Poll.
The poll found 42 percent of voters are in support of, and 42 oppose the public-private partnership proposal between the Rangers and the city of Arlington for a stadium to open in 2020. Another 16-percent said they were unsure how they would vote on the ballot measure.
It is the first public poll unaffiliated with either side in the Rangers stadium issue and indicates the race is a dead heat with three weeks left until the election.
A 57-percent majority of the 700 respondents in the WFAA/Star-Telegram Poll said “no” when asked if a new stadium is needed for the Rangers.
Overall, the poll found men support the stadium plan 48-42, while women were opposed 41-36 percent, which would extend half-cent sales tax, and a car rental & hotel tax that Arlington voters originally approved in 2004 to finance AT&T Stadium for the Cowboys.
Voters between ages 35 – 49 are the only age demographic in support of the plan, with an overwhelming 49-30 in favor of a new air-conditioned ballpark. Voters ages 18-34, a demographic with historically the lowest turnout in elections, have the strongest opposition to the $500 million taxpayer financed proposal at 48-39 percent.
Pollster SurveyUSA says the results paint an uncertain and close election as Arlington voters head to the polls next month.
“Opposition to a ballot measure, having nothing uniquely to do with Texas or the city of Arlington or with 2016, increases over time,” SurveyUSA found.
When asked “do you believe the Rangers would leave Arlington if the city does not build a new, enclosed stadium”, 51-percent of respondents said “no”, while only 33-percent answered “yes.”
The WFAA/Star-Telegram Poll comes amid polling from both pro and anti-stadium supporters in recent weeks. Supporters of both polls say the results indicate their side is in the lead.
In an interview Sunday, Arlington mayor Jeff Williams says he doesn't believe the results of the WFAA/Star-Telegram poll.
"I think it's totally inaccurate," Williams said. "Obviously I don't believe the data at all."
Williams instead pointed to polling released Sunday, commissioned by supporters of the stadium deal that showed the proposal leading by 19 points.
"I believe very much that our momentum is going up and I don’t believe we’re in a dead heat at all,” Williams said.
The city of Arlington says costs for the proposal would be divided equally 50/50 between the city and the Rangers, with no new taxes.
The ballot language for the November 8 measure also includes a $3 parking tax per vehicle and up to 10% tax on admission tickets, which opponents of the plan cite as evidence of “new taxes” and increased burden on the public to finance the Rangers stadium deal.
Andy Prior with Citizens for a Better Arlington, which is leading the "Save Our Stadium" campaign against the proposal, says the poll results reflect internal polling data the group is seeing.
"We're not at all surprised with how narrow the margin is," Prior said. "We go door to door, and one person says yes and the other says no, so it's just a tight neck and neck race, absolutely."
The WFAA/Star-Telegram Poll interviewed 700 adults between October 11-13, and found 606 were registered to vote, with 504 likely to vote. The results were derived from those likely voters with a margin of error of 4.5 percent.
Respondents reachable by phone accounted for 74-percent of the questionnaire. The 26-percent of respondents that could not be reached by phone were shown the questionnaire on the screen of their smartphone, tablet or other electronic device.
For a complete breakdown of WFAA / Star-Telegram Poll results and methodology click here.