Rural Media Group is seeking a $1 million economic development incentive to help defray costs associated with a possible relocation of its RFD-TV network to Fort Worth’s Historic Stockyards.
Robert Sturns, the city’s economic development director, told the City Council Tuesday that the proposed incentive is the culmination of a four-year effort to attract the Nashville-based network to the city. RFD-TV reaches 50 million households.
“It’s an opportunity to have this broadcast network with a clear and visible presence in the Stockyards promoting what we do here in Fort Worth,” Sturns said, adding that it would be a “significant opportunity for us to get some real national exposure in the Stockyards.”
Rural Media is considering relocating and consolidating its headquarters from Omaha, Nebraska, and a production studio from Nashville to leased space in the Stockyards. RFD-TV focuses on agribusiness, horses and the rural lifestyle, as well as country music and entertainment. It is considering a 6,000-square-foot production studio in the to-be-renovated mule barns off East Exchange Avenue.
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The incentive would be paid over 10 years and Rural Media Group would be required to meet requirements for spending with Fort Worth and minority- and women-owned businesses for their construction, a minimum $5 million commitment. The incentive would also require RFD-TV to annually produce 100 hours of live, original content in Fort Worth and promote the Stockyards working with the Fort Worth Convention & Visitors Bureau, Sturns said.
The 100 hours carries a media value of $17 million to Fort Worth, he said.
The network has about 150 employees. The council will vote on the incentive Nov. 15. If the network doesn’t stay through its 10-year lease, the city would require any incentive money be repaid.
I’m a fan of the channel. Do we have anything in the agreement that assures part of their original programming will reflect the diversity of Fort Worth. I’d like to make sure some of that original programming, and it can be a percentage if anything, shows diversity, such as the Cowboys of Color Museum and the north side Hispanic western culture.
Gyna Bivens, Fort Worth councilwoman
Councilwoman Gyna Bivens said she supports the proposal, but wants the city to ensure a percentage of the locally-produced programming include diversity.
“I’m a fan of the channel,” Bivens said. “Do we have anything in the agreement that assures part of their original programming will reflect the diversity of Fort Worth? I’d like to make sure some of that original programming, and it can be a percentage if anything, shows diversity, such as the Cowboys of Color Museum and the north side Hispanic western culture.”
We can learn something from the Texas Motors Speedway and make sure the Fort Worth branding is consistent throughout. One of the things I get upset about is when you’re at the Speedway and they say [it’s in] Dallas.
Sal Espino, Fort Worth councilman
Councilman Sal Espino, too, said he wants to ensure Fort Worth is used prominently.
“We can learn something from the Texas Motor Speedway and make sure the Fort Worth branding is consistent throughout. One of the things I get upset about is when you’re at the Speedway and they say [it’s in] Dallas.”
Rural Media Group is also considering sites in Nashville and Pueblo, Colo., where the Professional Bull Riders association is located. City staff earlier said the possible site was Durango, Colo., but economic development staff there said that was not the case, according to published reports.
Last week, the board of the tax increment finance district for the north side and Historic Stockyards approved asking the city to advance $7.9 million to cover public improvements along East Exchange Avenue and a major sewer line upgrade along Mule Alley in anticipation of RFD-TV moving to Fort Worth. The TIF will reimburse the city the money over 10 years interest-free.
Accelerating public improvements and loaning the money allows Fort Worth Heritage, the developers behind a $175 million Stockyards redevelopment including $40 million on the mule barns, to help RFD-TV with other relocation costs, Sturns said.
The public improvements are eligible for TIF monies, but the TIF is only in its second year of collecting revenue and there’s not yet enough money to cover those costs.