(TNS) -- ARLINGTON — There was a discussion about the future Wednesday night — a future that includes a Loews luxury hotel coming to Arlington's entertainment district, an entertainment and retail center, and a new ballpark for the Texas Rangers that will anchor it all.
But one part of that future has already arrived — at the old ballpark.
"In the next 30 days, autonomous people movers are going to be in use at Globe Life Park," Mayor Jeff Williams said in a free-wheeling discussion of the $1 billion, retractable-roof Rangers stadium and the $250 million Texas Live! entertainment complex going up next to it.
Williams appeared before members of the Texo Association Young Constructors Council along with Jack Hill, the Rangers' senior vice president of project development, and Mark Penny, senior vice president for Texas of Manhattan Construction.
Williams said pre-programmed routes for the driverless vehicles are being worked out but would likely include off-street trails in the entertainment district, as well as getting people from parking lots to Globe Life Park for Rangers games or events at AT&T Stadium.
Earlier this year, Arlington was one of five cities in Texas chosen for a pilot program testing the effectiveness of autonomous vehicles.
Although the 12-person shuttles as part of the test program will be driverless, operators will be on board to watch over things.
"One day our kids and grandkids are going to be saying, 'Did you really drive? Wasn't that dangerous?'" Williams said.
The Rangers' new ballpark, paid for in part by $500 million in taxpayer funds, was approved by a public referendum in November and is scheduled to open in 2020.
The conversation at the DoubleTree Hotel on Wednesday — moderated by Candace Carlisle of the Dallas Business Journal — touched on economic development, the importance of the Rangers to Arlington, the cost of the new stadium, possible uses for a repurposed Globe Life Park and transportation.
Hill promised that the Rangers would hold fast to the stadium's $1 billion price tag.
"It won't be a billion-plus, or even a plus-plus — it'll be a billion dollars," he said.
While Hill, Williams and Penny were tight-lipped about what the new stadium might look like, they did offer some thoughts about the reuse of the old stadium.
"Obviously you need a need," Hill said. "We've had lots of suggestions — some of them pretty silly. I think it will sell itself, but we need that idea. In fact, it will probably be multiple ideas — retail space, office space and maybe even some residential."
Some of the "way-out things" that are off the table, Williams said, are a theme park inside the grounds of the stadium and a museum.
As far as the new place is concerned, fans will just have to wait and see what it will look like.
"It's going to have a lot of unique features," Hill said.
Care to offer specifics?
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