Tourism is a big driver of the economy in Arlington, and with the World Series putting the city on yet another national stage, city leaders expect an even greater willingness for entrepreneurs to invest in the area and take advantage of the growing market within the entertainment district.
The first two games of the series drew nearly 85,000 people to Globe Life Field alone, with 42,472 in attendance for Game 1 and 42,500 for Game 2 — while capacity is listed at 40,500, standing-room tickets can boost attendance. That doesn’t include those who flocked to the city to watch the game at venues like Texas Live, where an estimated 10,000 fans attended Friday and Saturday.
The visitors bureau predicts about 35 percent or more of World Series fans will come from outside the region, based on data from location analytics firm Placer.ai.
“There is a lot of interest in building additional hotels in the area,” said Bruce Payne, the city’s economic development director. “A lot of people are looking at the success of those particular World Series and given what’s been done so far to make decisions to take advantage of the market that’s developing.”
According to the Greater Arlington Chamber of Commerce, the city’s entertainment district has “seen billions of dollars in investment over the past several years with more to come, positioning the area as a world-class sports and entertainment destination.”
And that investment is paying off, Payne said.
“The fact that the entertainment district is generating more revenue is now getting people’s attention and there’s a growing interest in having more events there,” Payne said, pointing to the development that’s making the area shine.
Location, location, location
In addition to the Texas Rangers’ new Globe Life Field and Texas Live! A 200,000-square-foot entertainment complex — which includes a luxury hotel complex, Live! by Loews — the entertainment district is home to the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium, Six Flags Over Texas, Hurricane Harbor, Choctaw Stadium, Esports Stadium and Expo Center and the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame.
No plans to slow down.
“Development around the entertainment district is a constant ongoing process and we’re always looking to make improvements and bring more hotel rooms and better accommodations and greater opportunities for people to enjoy things here in Arlington,” said Arlington Mayor Jim Ross.
Upcoming developments include the National Museum of Honor and One Rangers Way — which will be a high-end residential complex within walking distance of AT&T Stadium, Globe Life Field and Choctaw Stadium.
In addition, the Loews Arlington Hotel and Convention Center, which will be connected by an air bridge to the Live! by Loews, will offer a combined 1,188 guest rooms and 251,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting and event space.
Such developments will help generate revenue that allows the city to reinvest in other parts of the city to provide services to the public, Payne said.
“There will be a whole new level of tourism attracted to Arlington with these developments,” Payne said. “All of this increases our ability to host larger events, and I expect we’ll see proposals for other hotels over time because it’s proving to be a really great location with a lot of interest in development.”
Increase tourism points to profit
In the 1960s and 1970s, arrivals like Turnpike Stadium (later named Arlington Stadium), the Texas Rangers and Six Flags Over Texas began attracting tourists to the city, bringing momentum that hasn’t slowed.
Before Globe Life Field opens in 2020, the city was already attracting a significant number of tourists. In 2017, the city had 14.5 million visitors, up from 10 million visitors in 2014, generating $1.4 billion in economic impact for the city, according to a 2017 visitor report produced for the Arlington Convention & Visitors Bureau by Longwoods International, a market research consultancy.
That year, the city’s tourism jobs accounted for 10 percent of all private employment in Arlington, and without tourism tax revenue, each household would have paid $1,300 more in taxes, the visitor report shows.
In 2022, the city had 15.1 million visitors, reflecting a 7.8% increase from last year. Total spending by these visitors reached a whopping $2.6 billion.
Tourism helps boost the city’s sales tax revenue, which also saw significant growth. Estimated sales tax revenue for fiscal year 2023 is $189.2 million. In fiscal year 2022, the city generated about $168 million in sales tax revenue, up from about $150 million in the previous fiscal year.
“It’s important for the citizens of the community to understand what a huge impact tourism can have – it brings other people’s money into your community, which increases tax revenue that can then be put into taking care of your city services,” said the former mayor Jeff Williams, noting that he supported the 2016 bond to help build the new Globe Life Field in part because he saw it as a way to increase tourism.
“The general atmosphere that was created there [in the entertainment district] is what allows the World Series to come, so the fact that the Series is here tells us we’ve been doing the right things,” Payne said.