Editorials

Fort Worth tourism is big, could be bigger

THE EDITORIAL BOARD

The Fort Worth Convention Center’s round arena section at 9th and Main streets downtown was built in 1968.
The Fort Worth Convention Center’s round arena section at 9th and Main streets downtown was built in 1968. Star-Telegram

Clearly, the time to tear down the old “flying saucer” arena portion of the downtown Fort Worth Convention Center and replace it with flexible meeting and event space — and build a new 1,000-room convention center hotel nearby — was years ago.

Bob Jameson, president and chief executive of the Fort Worth Convention & Visitors Bureau, told the organization’s annual meeting Wednesday that the city has missed out on $190 million worth of convention business because those facilities are inadequate.

“Demand is high,” Jameson said. “We have to keep our sights set.”

But that’s the glass-half-empty side of the story. The glass-half-full side is spectacular.

Jameson told about 750 people at the event that 8.8 million visitors came to Fort Worth last year, up 35 percent from 6.5 million in 2014. Visitor spending had an $2.3 billion economic impact last year.

People in Fort Worth know that convention and tourism business is very important for the city. We know the Stockyards and the Cultural District museums and events like the Stock Show are a terrific draw, and they put money in Fort Worth pockets.

Still, as Jameson said, “We have to keep our sights set.”

The target ahead of us includes replacing the downtown arena and building another convention hotel as soon as possible.

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