Fort Worth’s Dickies Arena mixes elegance with Western flair
There’s no shortage of sporting and entertainment venues in the sprawling 13-county Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, which encompasses 14,628 square miles and 7.5 million residents.
The North Texas region hosts the Dallas Cowboys’ iconic AT&T Stadium and the Texas Rangers’ new retractable roof ballpark under construction in Arlington, in the middle of the metroplex. Downtown Dallas has American Airlines Center, home to the Dallas Mavericks and Stars.
But on the west side of the fourth-largest metropolitan area in the United States, Dickies Arena is positioning itself as the premier sporting and entertainment venue in Fort Worth, Texas.
Location: Fort Worth, Texas
“There really are no major sports and entertainment arenas here in Fort Worth,” said venue president and general manager Matt Homan. “Everything is what I’d like to say east of the [Highway] 360 line, so it’s over in Dallas or up in Frisco and Plano, you know. There’s really nothing of this size in Fort Worth.”
Dickies Arena, which will hold its first event this month, was built to capitalize on that portion of the Dallas-Fort Worth market that’s been under-serviced for many years, Homan said.
The multipurpose arena sits on the Will Rogers Memorial Center campus, and architecturally takes cues from Fort Worth’s Western heritage, art deco styling and the city’s motto: “Where the West Begins.”
Among the arena’s interior architectural flourishes are four spiral staircases, two ovals and two octagonal. Towers draw their inspiration from the Will Rogers Memorial Center’s tower, the former home of the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo, Homan said. “It takes kind of a little bit of the past here at Fort Worth and brings it into the future,” he said.
Dickies Arena’s anchor tenant will be the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo, an event held in mid-January through early February over 28 days. But the new venue will host a number of events in the coming years.
The American Athletic Conference’s basketball tournament and the NCAA’s gymnastics championships will both be held there from 2020 through 2022. TCU men’s basketball will play USC on Dec. 6 as part of a two-year agreement between the two schools. And the arena will host the NCAA men’s basketball tournament first and second rounds in 2022.
Tickets for the Nov. 22 George Strait concert — the venue’s first event — sold out within 30 minutes.
Dickies Arena, with a maximum capacity of 14,000 (9,300 for rodeo), will have 215 rodeo boxes, each with four to 12 seats, located around the lower level of the arena for the Fort Worth Stock Show, priced between $10,000 and $30,000 per year. The arena has 2,400 club seats, which are $3,000 each, as well as 40 suites, 36 of which will be sold on a yearly-basis at $107,000, Homan said. Some of the suites have been contracted for five, seven or 10 years. The four remaining suites will be rented out as party suites.
A lot of the thought behind the arena’s details came from HKS and David M. Schwarz Architects, the arena’s design architect, and input from Ed Bass, a Fort Worth-based billionaire financier and philanthropist, who led a group of private donors that contributed more than half the costs toward the $540 million venue’s construction. The city of Fort Worth contributed $225 million to the project.
“This public-private partnership was Fort Worth and the philanthropic community’s way of gifting something back to the city, and that is truly remarkable,” Homan said.
The partnership also includes the state of Texas and Tarrant County. Founding partners currently include: Dickies, Chevrolet, Texas Health Resources, Reliant Energy, Simmons Bank and the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo.
Terms of Dickies’ multi-year naming-rights deal have not been disclosed.
The nonprofit Trail Drive Management Corp. will manage the arena on a 70-year lease with the city of Fort Worth, which owns the arena. There will be 75 points of sale, and concessions will be handled in-house and influenced by regional tastes. So expect plenty of barbeque and Tex-Mex.
“We’ll open the arena with little to no debt, and our goal is just to make sure it’s self-sufficient and can provide for itself in the future,” Homan said. “Meaning when we need to redo a scoreboard in five to seven years, we can pay for that. When we need to redo the seats, we can pay for that, and any of those capital improvements.”