A Look Back at Some of the Top Stories in Arlington in 2021
By Susan Schrock, Office of Communication
Posted on December 29, 2021, December 29, 2021

Top Stories of 2021

As we close out 2021, we're looking back at some of the biggest stories that shaped the year. From the community’s response during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and Winter Storm Uri to UT Arlington’s prestigious Texas Tier One designation, here are a just a few of this year's top stories.

Arlington Fire Department Provides More than 233,000 COVID-19 Vaccines

The Arlington Fire Department, partnered with ambulance provider American Medical Response, provided its first COVID-19 vaccinations at the Esports Stadium Arlington + Expo Center on Dec. 28, 2020. That community vaccination effort continued throughout 2021 and included working with FEMA to operate a large-scale Community Vaccination Center that rotated between Esports Stadium Arlington, Globe Life Field and AT&T Stadium. The Arlington Fire Department also conducted pop-up vaccination clinics, provided vaccinations for residents who were homebound and their caregivers, and opened its new Public Health Building at 2920 S. Cooper St. to offer residents convenient COVID-19 vaccines five days a week.

Between Dec. 28, 2020, and Dec. 14, 2021, the Arlington Fire Department managed more than 233,000 Covid-19 vaccines and booster shots and continues its efforts to protect public health during the pandemic.

City Council Establishes Permanent Unity Council, Begins Implementing Unity Report Recommendations

After eight months of research and a series of community conversations, the citizen-led Unity Council presented a proposed racial equity plan to the City Council in February.

The 28-member Unity Council’s mission has been to gather community input, research best practices and recommend strategies that the City of Arlington could implement to promote and encourage greater equity and to advance unity across our community. The Unity Council’s work, which began in July 2020, is part of the City’s commitment to equality, inclusion and the elimination of institutional racism and other forms of discrimination in its policies and practices.

In June 2021, the City Council established the Unity Council as a 10-member standing committee, including a youth representative, and also began discussing the Unity Council Report implementation timeline. The report identifies nearly 60 recommendations for short-, mid- and long-term goals in the areas of Economic Disparities, Education and Workforce Training, Housing, Health and Wellness and Policing and Criminal Justice, based on months of data analysis and public feedback, which included interviews, focus groups and virtual town hall meetings.

In recognition of the work of the Unity Council, the National League of Cities selected the City of Arlington as the winner of its 2021 Cultural Diversity Awards.

Arlington’s ViaRideshare Transportation Service Expands Citywide

In January, Arlington’s Via Rideshare service area expanded citywide, making affordable, on-demand public transportation accessible to even more residents, employees and visitors.

Since its launch in December 2017, Via Rideshare customers have taken more than 886,000 trips around The American Dream City to dine out or shop, get to school or work, or attend other daily appointments.

Now starting its fifth year, the service continues to provide an equitable and flexible on-demand transit offering that is free from fixed routes and schedules. In December, the City named a “Leader in Equitable Regional Transportation” in the 2021 Via Impact Awards, which recognize cities and transit agencies who have delivered exceptional service to their communities by leveraging Via’s TransitTech.

City Launches Arlington RAPID, New Self-Driving Public Transportation Pilot Program

Since March, Via Rideshare customers have also had the option to book a self-driving vehicle for trips around UT Arlington and Downtown. The Arlington RAPID pilot program, available through the Via app, is the first in the United States to integrate on-demand autonomous vehicles into an existing public transportation service.

A fleet of five self-driving vehicles, including a wheelchair-accessible vehicle, is available to book from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday for destinations within the service area, which includes the Downtown Library, City Hall, UTA and numerous restaurants, offices, and businesses. Starting Jan. 3, the service hours will change and Arlington RAPID rides will be available between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The City of Arlington is operating the pilot program in partnership with Via, May Mobility, and UTA through a grant provided by the Federal Transit Administration.

Loews Hotels & Co Breaks Ground on $550 Million Loews Arlington Hotel and Convention Center

Arlington’s Entertainment District continued to grow in 2021. In October, Loews Hotels & Co broke ground on a new $550 million Loews Arlington Hotel and Convention Center. This 888-room hotel, set to open in early 2024, will be located across from Live! by Loews, which is a joint venture among Loews Hotels & Co, the Texas Rangers and The Cordish Companies, built on the former Texas Rangers' Lot J parking lot. Future additions to The District will include a mixed-use residential building and a Spark coworking space, both developed by The Cordish Companies.

Globe Life Park Renamed Choctaw Stadium, Will Become Home to Major League Rugby Team

The Texas Rangers announced a multi-year naming rights partnership for Globe Life Park. The multi-purpose sports and entertainment venue, now known as Choctaw Stadium, will also become home to Major League Rugby Team Dallas Jackals starting in 2022. Other events hosted at Choctaw Stadium this year included the Texas Christkindl Market, the Elf on the Shelf’s Magical Holiday Journey, Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience, as well as several concerts and sporting events.

Globe Life Field, AT&T Stadium Continues to Shine in National Spotlight

In addition to entertainment options at nearby Choctaw Stadium, AT&T Stadium and Globe Life Field hosted numerous high-profile events during the year, including the inaugural Lockheed Martin Commanders’ Classic, matches for the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup, The American Rodeo, the 2021 Rose Bowl, the Bout at the Ballpark wrestling showcase and many others. Concerts and sporting events announced for the Arlington venues in 2022 include WrestleMania 38, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Elton John’s ‘Farewell Yellow Brick Road’ Tour, Kenny Chesney’s Here and Now 2022 Stadium Tour, as well as The American and the 2022 PBR Global Cup USA.

UTA Achieves Prestigious Texas Tier One Status; Again Named Among Elite Group of Research Universities

In August, UT Arlington became the first university to achieve Texas Tier One designation in more than three years. The designation gives UTA access to the National Research University Fund (NRUF), which was established in 2009 to provide a pathway for emerging research institutions to become national leaders in research output. Then in December, UTA was once again named to the elite group of R-1: Doctoral Universities—Very High Research Activity by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, the definitive list for the top doctoral research universities in the United States.

Downtown Arlington Growth Continues

Downtown Arlington celebrated several new developments in 2021, including more housing options, businesses, and community events, including the three-day Ramblin’ Roads Music Festival and the Juneteenth Block Party. Among the many announcements for Downtown is the upcoming expansion of Urban Union. The project, which broke ground in December, will bring street-level retail, shops, restaurants, and offices, 24 loft apartment units and the new Sutton Frost Cary LLP headquarters.

City, Community Come Together During Winter Storm Uri Response and Recovery

February 2021 brought unprecedented snow, ice and freezing temperatures to Arlington and the rest of Texas. Conditions caused power outages, loss of heat and broken pipes as well as a temporary boil water notice for the City.

To assist Arlington residents and business owners with recovery efforts and keep them informed, the City implemented the new CodeRED Emergency Notification System and launched a Winter Storm Recovery webpage with news about local, state and federal resources. Additionally, Arlington Water Utilities issued a “storm recovery credit” to help customers who experienced higher water usage due to plumbing, fire suppression or irrigation line breaks to their homes or businesses or dripping faucets to prevent freezing pipes.

Other resources included a priority permitting process and waived permit fees for emergency repairs, up to $5,000 in emergency repairs from the Arlington Housing Authority Housing Rehabilitation Emergency Repair Program, temporary emergency warming stations, and multiple drinking water container filling stations around the city.

Downtown Arlington, Entertainment District, Via, UT Arlington, Unity Council, Choctaw Stadium, Dallas Jackals
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