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ARLINGTON, TX-In a “one for all and all for one” vote, the Arlington City Council last night blessed a $650-million stadium plan with the Dallas Cowboys and passed the final decision to the voters. The final hurdle is Nov. 2.

In recent weeks, Arlington picked up the deal after Dallas officials asked Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones for extra time to weigh the pros and cons. Arlington’s “Hail Mary” play turned a master plan in 22 days, producing an agreement for the city to pay up to half the cost for Jones’ dream field: a retractable-roof stadium, fully air-conditioned and seating for 75,000 fans. The referendum and the presidential election are sure to pull record turnouts as camps swell on both sides of the Great Divide for both campaigns.

Mayor Robert Cluck tells GlobeSt.com that he’s braced for “a difficult campaign” to convince voters that the merits outweigh a half cent sales tax hike, 2% jump in hotel occupancy taxes and 5% increase in vehicle-rental taxes. “This proposed project will have the most significant economic impact on Arlington than any we have ever done,” Cluck says. “I believe it will spur major development and redevelopment in our city.” Preliminary projections show the stadium could pump $238 million per year into the city’s economy.

Cluck believes the stadium proposal ultimately will pass despite the heated battles that that lie ahead. In recent weeks, the opposition has passed out “nojonestax.com” bumper stickers and set up a website to counter the Cowboys’ first play, a massive mailing about the project. At last night’s council meeting, the crowd was about evenly split on the issue.

The Cowboys and Arlington officials aired the master agreement 24 hours before the council vote. Under the initial terms, Jones and the Cowboys will pay $2 million annually to rent the stadium for 30 years, with two 10-year extensions, after which they can buy the facility for $100 million and get full reimbursement for three decades of lease payments. Until then, the owner would be the Arlington Sports Facilities Development Authority.

Arlington’s gain, aside from the claim to fame of side-by-side major league stadiums, is dibs on 5% of the sale of naming rights along with an expected spike in new development. The city also will get $16.5 million over a 30-year period from the Gene and Jerry Jones Foundation to develop youth programs and facilities.

The stadium site has yet to be decided, but the frontrunner of three under consideration would take down roughly one third of the 180 acres of developable land surrounding Ameriquest Field, home to the Texas Rangers. Four years ago, Tom Hicks’ Southwest Sports Group Inc. announced plans to exercise its purchase option on the city-owned land and build a mixed-use development, envisioned as a new downtown for a city with a population now pushing 400,000 residents. So far, one office building has risen. With that plan sitting on the sidelines, the city started billing itself as “Fun Central” with an interstate-fronting Entertainment District that includes Six Flags, Ameriquest Field and Hurricane Harbor. The crowning jewel, proponents contend, would be the Dallas Cowboys’ stadium. The Cowboys’ lease in Irving expires in 2008.

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