The City Council on Tuesday evening took the first step in seeking voter approval for a new Multipurpose Arena adjacent to the Will Rogers Memorial Center.
A resolution that would allow them to call an election at a future date was passed unanimously.
The resolution allows Council to begin working with the State Comptroller's Office to call an election to approve the arena project. It also outlines three different user tax options to help pay for the arena. No date has been set for the election; it could be held any time before Aug. 1, 2018.
The Council supports developing a state-of-the-art Multipurpose Arena at the corner of Harley and Gendy streets, along with adjacent support facilities. The new facilities would complement the architectural style of the Will Rogers District and would host concerts, family shows, sporting events, ceremonies, rodeos and equestrian shows.
Private funding for nearly half of the project is anticipated in addition to both State and local incremental hotel occupancy taxes. Additional funding for the new arena could come from taxes on users such as ticket, stall and parking taxes, with voter approval. A parking tax would not be assessed until the arena opens. The goal is to maintain rates that are in place at the time the arena opens and to generate additional funds from higher parking volumes. There would be no increases in city property tax, sales tax or hotel occupancy tax, and there would be no expected impact on the city's General Fund or Public Events Fund.
Convention center, hotel needs
Earlier in the day, the council heard a briefing on the feasibility of expanding Fort Worth's hotel and event space for conventions. While a first phase of improvements at the Fort Worth Convention Center were made in 2003, more is needed to keep up with demand, Hunden Strategic Partners said.
Specifically, the consultants recommended developing the Multipurpose Arena at Will Rogers, renovating the arena at the Fort Worth Convention Center into more usable space, and adding more hotel rooms downtown.
The arena and annex portions of the convention center are more than 40 years old and should be replaced by newer facilities, the consultants told the council. Event planners and promoters love the Fort Worth experience but often cannot be accommodated by existing facilities.
The consultants also urged adding a second headquarters hotel adjacent to the convention center and the potential expansion of the Omni Hotel downtown.
With these investments, Fort Worth can "right-size" its event infrastructure to keep up with population growth, as well as continue to attract and retain the economic, fiscal and job impacts generated by events.