Fort Worth

Dickies Arena is grand. But do the toilets work?

Don’t worry. The toilets at Dickies Arena will work next month when you go for a George Strait or Twenty One Pilots show.

They didn’t all work perfectly Wednesday during the arena’s “Royal Flush,” a sort of system test ahead of the grand opening, but arena officials say it’ll be fine for the Oct 26 grand opening. More than 300 Trimble Tech seniors spent the morning flushing toilets and riding escalators to simulate a large crowd. They’ll also be one of the first Fort Worth school district classes to graduate through Dickies Arena next May.

“It’s a privilege, honestly,” Edwin Barrera, 17, said while standing outside a stall in the southwest men’s room.

Was it a privilege to flush toilets or have a graduation ceremony in Fort Worth’s newest, grandest event space? Barrera didn’t immediately say.

Later he added that he thought it was pretty cool to graduate from the new Dickies Arena, calling it an upgrade from ceremonies at TCU.

Principal E. Omar Ramos said students were excited to check out the arena. Graduating from a centralized place like Dickies Arena would make it easier for families coming form across the city, he said.

“They’ll be able to go home and tell their parents how beautiful it is and this is place they’ll be able to bring their whole family,” he said.

The high school seniors made for a big crowd, but nowhere near the arena’s nearly 14,000 seat capacity.

Back to the toilets. There’s nearly 470 of them.

Just before the students simultaneously flushed toilets, the voice of billionaire Ed Bass, chairman of the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo, came on the arena’s intercom to cheerfully count down the fateful flush.

“Are you ready? Say ‘Yeah!’” he said.

When the time came, to some students’ surprise, not all the toilets worked. Some trickled, while others flowed fine. The result was the same for tries No. 2 and 3.

The high school class was a good-size crowd, but Dickies Arena has a capacity to hold nearly 14,000 during the rodeo, so all those toilets are necessary.

Matt Homan, General Manager, said the royal flush gave his crew a chance to fine tune and tweak toilets and escalators before a massive Cowtown crowd shows up.

The pesky toilets that didn’t flush or had weak flow will work fine in a few weeks, he said, speculating that the problem resulted from several hundred toilets being flushed at once.

“Oh, I’m very confident we’ll be ready to go,” Homan said.

Nonprofit Trail Drive Management operates Dickies Arena, a more than $500 million complex that was funded in part by the city of Fort Worth. The grand opening is at 10 a.m. Oct. 26 on the east side of the arena, on Simmons Bank Plaza. The family-friendly event includes Wheels Monster Trucks Live’s Bigfoot, WWE Smackdown Women’s Champion Bayley, a Harlem Globetrotter and a Cirque du Soleil performer.

Shows have already started to booked through December, including Twenty One Pilots on Nov. 8, George Strait on Nov. 22 and 23 and Pepe Aguilar Dec. 14.

Tickets for the grand opening are free through Ticketmaster.

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Luke Ranker covers the intersection of people and government focused on Fort Worth and Tarrant County. He came to Texas from the plains of Kansas, where he wrote about a lot, including government, crime and courts in Topeka. He survived a single winter in Pennsylvania as a breaking news reporter. He can be reached at 817-390-7747 or lranker@star-telegram.com.
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