Posted on Sun, Mar. 18, 2007
By Randy Galloway
Star-Telegram Staff Writer
In North Arlington, construction cranes hang high over Collins Street, as the finest football stadium known to mankind is on the way up, up, up.
But a mere 20 miles to the east, the mood is down. Way down.
There's a blame game going on. And nothing makes politicians more nervous than the blame game.
"Who Lost the Cowboys for Dallas?" blared a headline last week in that city's newspaper.
Of course, the Cotton Bowl game is also coming to Arlington, and now the worry is about that jewel known as Texas-OU. Will that game be the next to call Arlington home?
What the city of Dallas couldn't or wouldn't do, the city of Arlington did.
Jerry Jones, of course, is the lightning rod in the middle. It's his new stadium, with Arlington as his minority partner, the city investing about a third of what now figures to be close to a billion-dollar project.
The politicians over there spent two years haggling with Jerry about a stadium deal that never got off the table.
Arlington city leaders got it done in two weeks.
In Dallas, they blame Jones for their failure. Lord knows, I understand the sentiment. I've made a decent living over the years by blaming Jones for all things Cowboy.
But four decades ago, different city leaders in Dallas and a different owner of the Cowboys also disagreed over a new stadium issue. The late Clint Murchison heard laughs when he said he'd move the team out of the city.
There was no laughing in 1971. That's when Texas Stadium opened in Irving.
But now it's a CYB mentality in Dallas. Cover Your Butt. Blame Jones. And blame Arlington city leaders for caving in to Jones. Right, Laura Miller?
That's why this week was a good time to check in with my favorite "Dallas Guy."
Former mayor Ron Kirk knows his sports and knows his politics.
So, Ron, is this new stadium a good deal for Arlington?
"Absolutely," he said. "If the voters approved it, it's a good deal."
OK, that's the political answer of convenience, but Kirk also gave his explanation on the role of a mayor and other elected city officials.
"You were voted into that job to provide vision and leadership for your city. But with something like this stadium deal, your vision and leadership has to be approved. The voters will tell you if you are wrong. That's why what Arlington did was right."
Kirk, of course, knows the situation. He came under heavy political fire for being the mayor who pushed for the new arena in downtown Dallas. The voters gave him narrow approval, but the political doubts remained, until...
Kirk is now hailed for "vision and leadership." The arena, and the construction around the arena, has given Dallas a new and different, first-class downtown area.
And if Kirk had still been the Dallas mayor?
"I would have done what Arlington did," he said. "I would have pushed hard for this Cowboys stadium. And there are now, of course, a lot of doubts about us not doing it.
"Yes, it would have been a hard deal to do. Jerry Jones is a smart businessman. But in kind of working on the outside to get it done in Dallas, there was never a conversation I had with Jerry, which didn't lead me to believe that Dallas was his first choice, be it a downtown site, or even Fair Park.
"In any negotiation I ever heard of, if both sides want to make a deal, then you should be able to reach an agreement. Unfortunately, that didn't happen."
Kirk said he also admired Arlington leaders for creating an "identity" for the city:
"When you are halfway between Dallas and Fort Worth, that's a difficult process. But to have that new ballpark for the Rangers, and now the Cowboys' stadium, Arlington has accomplished it."
Mention, however, the Texas-OU game, and Kirk digs in. He says he's ready to fight for Dallas.
"The worst thing possible for us is to have a negative reflex after losing the Cotton Bowl game. There are now those saying we shouldn't go ahead and pay the money to totally upgrade the Cotton Bowl.
"We cannot give in to Arlington. The Texas-OU game during the State Fair, that's important history for the city. If we upgrade the Cotton Bowl, we could still lose the game. But if we don't, we will definitely lose the game. We have to take the gamble."
Arlington did gamble, and those construction cranes now loom large on the north side of town, while in Dallas, the politicians scramble for excuses.
For the moment anyway, that's the best answer available on which city was right.
Randy Galloway's Galloway & Co. can be heard weekdays 3-6 p.m. on ESPN/103.3 FM.