First phase of construction begins on new multipurpose arena

By Claire Girman

After more than a decade of talk, Fort Worth has begun the first phase of construction for its new multipurpose arena.
The planned venue, located near Will Rogers Coliseum, will seat up to 14,000. It’s expected to host concerts, sporting events and various community functions.
The new arena is a public-private partnership between the city  and Events Facilities Fort Worth. The city is expected to pay for about half of the project, said James Horner, assistant facilities and public events director for the city.
The arena is meant to attract “events that currently pass Fort Worth by,” Horner said.
Construction crews started work on the arena’s parking garage last month. The facility and its surrounding amenities are projected to be completed by fall 2019.

The arena’s purpose
The new multipurpose arena is meant to compliment Will Rogers Coliseum, which was built in 1936.
“It dates back to some studies that were done in the mid-90’s that said the current arena is outdated and needs to be replaced,” Horner said.
He said the new arena should draw a “broader spectrum” of events to the area, from concerts, Ringling Bros. Circus, Disney on Ice to preliminary rounds of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
“The concert industry has basically left Fort Worth,” Horner said. “Not because we’re bad people, just because the arena is outdated.”

A timeline of planning and construction for Fort Worth's new multipurpose arena.
A timeline of planning and construction for Fort Worth\’s new multipurpose arena.

He said the facility will also fill various needs in the community.
“There are schools in the area that are busting at the seams trying to find a place to hold their high school graduations,” he said. “There are a whole lot of schools out there clamoring for space and dates.”
Horner said there have also been conversations with different colleges in the area to host their basketball games in the new arena.
How much it will cost
In 2014, voters agreed to pay half of the cost of the  $450 million arena and parking garage.
Public finances are capped at $225 million. Private financing is expected to cover the remaining costs.
The arena will also benefit from state funding and eventually provide additional tax revenue for the city, said Fort Worth council member Dennis Shingleton.
“We have state participation which gives us what’s called a “venue project” from the state,” Shingleton said. “It allows us to capture taxes on the arena, once we pass the voting referendum from November.”

Shingleton said tax revenue will come from ticketing, parking and stalls for animal occupancy. More local taxes will come from hotel occupancy and other areas.
“But those [taxes] aren’t impacting on the citizens of Fort Worth, they are venue taxes that will begin after the arena is open,” Shingleton said.
Breaking ground
Construction crews have begun working on the multi-level parking garage located south of the intersection of Montgomery Street and Harley Avenue. This should ease nieghborhood concerns.
“Arlington Heights has had a problem with parking forever on the arena grounds during the Stock Show,” Shingleton said. “We’re working to remedy that now.”

The city is still negotiating for all of the necessary land for project.
“The city has owned the land east of Montgomery Street and south of Harley Avenue for a long time,” Horner said. “But there is one small piece of property that the city is currently trying to acquire.”
Shingleton said Bodycote, which is owned by a British company, currently occupies a portion of the land that will house part of the multipurpose arena.
“We have purchased a piece of Bodycote’s land and have already raised the temporary structure that was on it,” Shingleton said. “But they’ve been slow to consummate the deal where we would take the rest of the land.”
Horner said construction for the new arena is scheduled to begin after next year’s Stock Show.
CORRECTION:  An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the date of the bond referendum that approved city participation in the multipurpose arena. The vote was held in November 2014.