Sep 16, 2022 - News

Dallas Fair Park renovation headed to voters

A photo of Fair Park in Dallas
The Cotton Bowl hosts much more than the Texas/OU game. Photo: Ron Jenkins for The Washington Post

Prominent Dallas politicians and business leaders have partnered to urge voters to approve a proposition that would increase the hotel occupancy tax to fund a new convention center and the renovation of key buildings in Fair Park.

Driving the news: Dallas heavyweights — including current Mayor Eric Johnson, former Mayor Tom Leppert and former U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, for whom the convention center is named — gathered yesterday to promote Proposition A, which will be on November ballots.

Why it matters: Though most of the $1.5 billion measure would go toward building a convention center, $300 million would be earmarked for Fair Park, potentially making it the largest single investment in the landmark's history.

Details: The bonds would be paid for by a 2% increase to the city's hotel occupancy tax, which is applied to stays at hotels and motels and short-term rentals.

  • Fair Park's money will go toward revitalizing the Cotton Bowl, Music Hall, Band Shell, Coliseum, and the Automobile and Centennial buildings.
  • The new convention center would still be named for Hutchison and is being pitched as a connector of Downtown and southern Dallas.

By the numbers: Some 5.5 million people visit Fair Park annually, and only 40% go during the State Fair of Texas, which opens Sept. 30.

What they're saying: The investment in Fair Park will end decades of a "band-aid and duct tape approach" to maintenance, Fair Park First CEO Brian Luallen tells Axios.

  • "The visitor experience is very poor," he said.

The bottom line: The Transform Dallas coalition will heavily promote the proposition until Election Day to ensure it gets noticed down-ballot amid a heated governor's race and closely watched midterms.

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