Honkin' Mad

SMU paid naming rights for DART Mockingbird Station. Can TEXRail do this in Fort Worth?

Southern Methodist University has ponied up $463,000 in a train station naming rights deal with Dallas Area Rapid Transit.

The well-known Mockingbird Station stop for DART light-rail and buses near Central Expressway and Mockingbird Lane is now officially known as SMU/Mockingbird Station.

The new station name will remain in place for 10 years, according to the naming rights agreement.

Could Fort Worth take similar action to raise funds for TEXRail expansion?

If and when TEXRail is expanded 1.5 miles south to the city’s medical district, could that station be dubbed “Texas Health Harris Methodist Station?” Or how about “Medical City Fort Worth Station,” “Baylor Scott & White Station” or even “Cook Children’s Medical Center Station?” All of those giants in the healthcare community have large operations near the rail line.

Should Texas Christian University be compelled to fork up some cash for naming rights to a station near West Berry Street and Cleburne Road, less than a mile east of the campus? (On TEXRail planning maps, that proposed station is already labeled TCU/Berry Street Station, even without money changing hands.)

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The newly-named SMU/Mockingbird Station in Dallas. Photo courtesy of DART

Naming rights apparently aren’t actively being discussed in the halls of Trinity Metro, which is Fort Worth’s transit agency and operates TEXRail. But officials are open to the idea.

“We would be open to revenue-generating naming options at TEXRail stations,” Trinity Metro spokeswoman Laura Hanna said. “Ultimately, any renaming considerations would require approval by our board of directors.”

Maybe, if TEXRail expands even further to the southwest, Tarleton State University will offer up some naming rights cash for its shiny new campus, which is built near a rail line that someday could be served by TEXRail.

Or why not rename an existing station, as DART did in Dallas? At TEXRail’s Northside Station near 28th Street and Decatur Avenue — not far from the Fort Worth Stockyards — there’s a tamale factory operated by Rodriguez Foods Ltd.

Imagine a recorded voice on TEXRail announcing: “Next stop, Rodriguez Foods Station.”

As for Dallas, SMU’s $463,000 payment is for 10 years of naming rights, DART spokesman Gordon Shattles said.

The idea is to make it easier for newcomers to find the campus while riding transit, and to “cement the rail station’s role as a gateway to the university,” according to a DART press release.

The DART board of directors has already authorized the naming rights deal, and signs with the new SMU/Mockingbird Station logo have already been installed in the area.

SMU/Mockingbird Station opened in 1997, and has become known as a rare example of successful transit-oriented development in North Texas. The area features loft housing, restaurants and the Angelika theatre.

The train station features a Mustang Express shuttle service connecting the campus, and also serves DART’s Red, Orange and Blue light-rail lines and several bus routes including the SMU Express (Route 768).

“We have so many activities on our campus we want to share with our neighbors, including SMU’s first home football game against the University of North Texas on Saturday ...,” SMU President R. Gerald Turner said in a statement. “Taking DART to SMU/Mockingbird Station is an easy way to get to a wide variety of SMU events – from Division I sporting events, to lectures and artistic performances, as well as to the George W. Bush Presidential Center.”

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Gordon Dickson joined the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in 1997. He is passionate about hard news reporting, and his beats include transportation, growth, urban planning, aviation, real estate, jobs, business trends. He is originally from El Paso, and loves food, soccer and long drives.