FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE February 15, 2023 Contact:               Andra Bennett, City of Fort Worth Public Events Dept.                                 817.392.2735 (o) | 682.346.7430 (m)                       

Fort Worth’s Will Rogers Coliseum Lobby, Concourse and Backstage Club to receive $8.5 million renovation


FORT WORTH – Fort Worth’s iconic Will Rogers Memorial Center, anchor of the city’s famed Cultural District, will receive an $8.5 million facelift to its original centerpiece, the historic art deco Coliseum.

At its February 14th meeting, Fort Worth’s City Council approved the allocation of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Revenue Recovery funds to renovate the Will Rogers Memorial Center (WRMC) Coliseum concourse and restrooms, grand lobby entrance and the Backstage Club.


“The Will Rogers Coliseum is beloved by millions of visitors who have created memories here for 86 years,” said Mike Crum, director of Public Events for the City of Fort Worth. “We are investing in the facility to ensure its historic charm and elegance continue to impress millions more in future generations.”

The Coliseum concourse supports concessions and product vendors as well as foot traffic to the historic arena, where more than 30 equestrian events are held annually for an average of 260 event days. The combined economic impact of those shows in 2021 was $74.2 million.

“Will Rogers is a premier equestrian facility that welcomes horse lovers from around the globe,” said Billy Smith, executive director of the American Paint Horse Association headquartered in Fort Worth. “As a longtime client, we’re pleased to know the historic Coliseum will represent Fort Worth as a Best-in-Class asset and draw even more visitors here.”

Prominent Fort Worth business leader Amon G. Carter commissioned the facility for the 1936 Frontier Celebration during the Texas Centennial.

“The Coliseum grand lobby and concourse create an important first impression,” said Kevin Kemp, WRMC general manager. “When visitors arrive, we want them to experience the grandeur of the structure that Amon G. Carter envisioned and built years ago.”

The oval concourse surrounding the arena was last fully renovated in the 1970s. Plans for the 27,608 square-foot space include new flooring, ceiling tiles, energy-efficient lighting, water-saving restroom fixtures, wayfinding signage and decorative upgrades that complement the original moderne architectural detail.

The Backstage Club, frequented by politicians, movie stars and other celebrities, overlooks the arena from the second floor and is a popular restaurant during the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo. The 5,203 square-foot space will be reconfigured to serve a broader spectrum of event needs while respecting its historical significance.

A Request for Quote (RFQ) will be issued immediately for design and construction bids. Work inside the coliseum is expected to begin within a year.




About the Public Events Department

The City of Fort Worth Public Events Department manages the operations of the Office of Outdoor Events, the Fort Worth Convention Center and Arena, and the Will Rogers Memorial Center and Coliseum. The two event facilities welcome more than 3 million visitors annually from conventions, sporting events, national equestrian and livestock events, consumer shows, and corporate and social events. The Office of Outdoor Events reviews, regulates and processes permits for an annual average of 250 outdoor events such as parades, block parties, festivals and foot or bicycle races.


About Will Rogers Memorial Center


Will Rogers Memorial Center is an historic entertainment, sports and livestock complex located in Fort Worth’s Cultural District. The 120-acre facility is named for Cherokee-American humorist, writer and cowboy entertainer Will Rogers, who died in an airplane crash in 1935. Owned and operated by the City of Fort Worth, the original coliseum and auditorium were dedicated in 1936. Multiple barns, arenas, stalls, tunnels and pavilions were added over the decades. The facility is on the National Register of Historic Places and received an Historic Fort Worth Preservation Award in 2022.