Dickies Arena starting to take shape
In fact, any concert in the $540 million arena will sound like it’s performed in a concert hall with the custom acoustic ceiling and other fine-tuned features. Progress on Dickies Arena is on track to be open in time for Strait’s concert.
The Beck Group, the project’s contractor, committed to completing the project by Nov. 26, 2019 with a countdown clock displayed in their work site headquarters. Strait is scheduled to play Nov. 22, 2019 as one of the arena’s opening acts. Tickets priced at $19.82-$250 will go on sale Friday, Dec. 7, at ticketmaster.com.
“We’ve been promised Dickies will have the acoustics of Bass Hall. Can you imagine a concert like that in an arena?” Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price said.
That comparison is appropriate given that Fort Worth billionaire Ed Bass’s Event Facilities Fort Worth partnered with the city of Fort Worth on the arena. Fort Worth’s contribution is capped at $225 million paid from user taxes, meaning the bulk of the project is privately funded.
Unlike in a typical arena, where sound boards are hung to create concert acoustics, the ceiling in Dickies Arena features perforated insulation and a large bass trap designed to absorb sound and prevent unwanted echoing.
While all venues, whether they host hockey, basketball or rodeos, pay attention to the quality of sound, designers of Dickies Arena paid special attention to how concerts would sound inside the 530,000 square foot hall, Alissa Cunningham, arena marketing director, said.
“When exploring the acoustics for Dickies Arena, the key was to ensure that we had great sound for music,” she said.
The acoustics aren’t the only minute detail designers honed in on.
Entryways feature elaborate terrazzo tile work that from the mezzanine level above resembles large lassos. Each entryway will have distinct lighting, molding, ceiling and mason work. Prairie grass formed from stainless steel decorates banisters.
“They help tell the story of Fort Worth and Texas,” Cunningham said.
A large plaza will be built atop the arena’s adjoining support building that offers a wide view of the Fort Worth skyline. Through a plaza pavilion, stock show visitors can see into a practice arena below that can be converted into conference or dance hall space.
The attention to detail started with Ed Bass, Beck regional director Scot Bennett said. Bass has visited the work site repeatedly and early on took a keen interest in the building’s aesthetics.
“When you talk about the performance of this thing, Mr. Bass said from the beginning this wasn’t going to be a typical arena,” Bennett said. “It’s going to have the fit and finish of a performance hall.”
All of this is an effort to blend Dickies Arena into the larger stock show campus, including Pioneer Tower but giving it a unique feel. While fitting into the aesthetic of the Will Rogers Memorial Center, the dome of the arena is peaked slightly taller than most buildings of its kind, giving it a distinct look. At about 150 feet tall, a nine- or 10-story building could fit inside the arena easily.
“Our museum complex and the Will Rogers complex are unique and so Fort Worth. Our intent was Dickies would fee like it had been there a long time,” Price said.
At maximum capacity, for a concert, 14,500 seats will be available. For the rodeo, one of the arena’s main events, about 9,000 seats will be open.
Some of those seats will be in the more than 40 suites, which feature leather seats, private bars and excellent views. Beck Group project executive Gary Pille pointed out on a recent tour that there wasn’t a bad seat in the house.
“By leaving out an upper section of seats, everyone is much closer to the action than in a typical arena,” he said.
Beyond concerts and rodeo, the arena is already on its way to being a basketball hub.
TCU will play USC in a neutral site game Dec. 6, 2019. In 2022, the arena will host first- and second-round games of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
Cunningham said the arena may compete directly with Dallas’s American Airlines Center. Concerts aimed at smaller venues would be attracted to Dickies’ unique style. The two venues may also collaborate on touring shows like the Harlem Globetrotters, Disney on Ice or Cirque du Soleil.
“Fort Worth is already large enough on its own to support shows like that and so is Dallas,” she said. “You can successfully play in both markets back to back.”
With work on the arena’s roof wrapping up, the towering cranes that have dominated that section of the Cultural District skyline have started to come down. The first was removed earlier this fall and a second this week.
At peak work, 900 laborers were on hand at the job site with more than 4,000 being employed throughout the project. They laid 41 miles of plumbing, 24 miles of HVAC equipment, 1.3 million bricks and will have worked nearly 4 million man hours when the project is done, according to Beck stats.