Fort Worth-based Williamson-Dickie Manufacturing Co. won the naming rights for the multipurpose arena under construction at the Will Rogers Memorial Center that is expected to be one of the region’s top tourist draws for a wide range of events.
The new facility, located in one of the city’s signature areas, is now known as Dickies Arena. Philip Williamson, chairman and CEO, whose great-grandfather and grandfather helped found the company in 1922, said it was a natural fit to gain the naming rights. The workwear company is a longtime sponsor of the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo, he said.
“We’re committed and passionate about continuing to ensure Fort Worth remains one of the fastest growing cities in the nation,” Williamson said. “We couldn’t be prouder to have the Dickies name on an arena that will become one of the most recognizable landmarks in the city.”
Dickies Arena is expected to open in November 2019. In 2020, the arena will become home to the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo, the event that led city, business and civic leaders more than 25 years ago to start working on a more modern and larger facility at the Will Rogers.
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Shortly after the arena name was announced at a ceremony Tuesday, officials learned the venue will host the 2022 NCAA men’s basketball first and second rounds. Fort Worth hasn’t hosted an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game since 1970.
The new arena will also host the NCAA women’s Gymnastics Championships beginning in 2020. The event will be held at the Fort Worth Convention Center in 2019 and then move to the arena.
The Fort Worth Convention and Visitors Bureau estimates the direct economic impact of the NCAA women’s Gymnastics tournament at $1.2 million and $7.4 million for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, as well as millions of dollars more in media exposure.
Terms of the naming rights and the cost were not disclosed by Williamson or Multipurpose Arena Fort Worth, or MAFW, the not-for-profit entity that has been set up to operate and manage the 14,000-seat facility.
The $450 million arena is a public-private partnership of the city and private donors facilitated by Event Facilities Fort Worth, headed by financier Ed Bass. The city’s contribution is capped at $225 million and the private side of the partnership will pick up the remaining costs. A master agreement on the facility was reached in November 2015 that gave Event Facilities naming rights.
The city has already raised $25 million for the arena and in mid-July expects to issue special tax revenue bonds for the remainder. Voters approved the project in a special referendum in 2014. The city will pay the debt through various hotel occupancy taxes, a car rental tax as well as revenues generated by taxes at the arena itself.
Revenues generated at the arena will go into a special fund and the money used for capital improvements of the facility.
Construction crews have already dug a 10-acre swath at Gendy Street and Harley Avenue that will be 23 feet deep for the arena. A 2,200-space parking garage is also under construction at the site, off Montgomery Street in the Cultural District.
“This is not a baby arena,” Bass said. “It’s the real thing.”
Mayor Betsy Price said the city has many groundbreaking ceremonies in recent years, “but this one is extra special. With this arena, a whole new generation of children and young adults will make memories.”
The Stock Show moved from the city-owned Coliseum in the Stockyards in north Fort Worth to the Will Rogers in 1945.
Arena fast facts
▪ So far, 15,200 semi truck loads have removed 275,000 cubic yards of dirt
▪ Then a concept, the arena was part of D/FW’s bid for the 2012 Summer Olympics
▪ Event Facilities Fort Worth is leasing arena for $1 annually for 30 years
▪ Dickies Arena will seat 13,400 for basketball games
▪ Arena will have 5,228 dedicated parking spaces
▪ Arena and support areas will be 715,334 square feet
Source: Event Facilities Fort Worth