What: Fort Worth Convention and Visitors Bureau Sports Huddle presented by Pinnacle Bank
Where: Dee J. Kelly Alumni & Visitors Center
When: August 1 from 11:30 to 1:30 p.m.
The Fort Worth Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) hosted the Sports Huddle luncheon on August 1. The luncheon featured a Q&A between Jon Daniels, the president of baseball operations and general manager of the Texas Rangers, and a longtime Star Telegram sports reporter, Jim Reeves. Before the Q&A, Jason Sands, the director of Fort Worth Sports Marketing spoke about sports tourism in Fort Worth.
Sports tourism in Fort Worth
Sands was introduced by Bob Jameson, the president and CEO of the Fort Worth CVB who gave an update on new things launched in the last couple of years in Fort Worth including the Fort Worth Film Commission and the Fort Worth Sports Marketing. He also encouraged the audience to bring more conventions to Fort Worth.
“Sports tourism in Fort Worth is growing,” said Jameson, adding that “the CVBB is working to keep pace and to continue to encourage that growth.”
Jameson introduced Sands saying that he has a “remarkable vision for building sports partnerships here and leveraging the incredible opportunities that we have surrounded by the Texas Rangers and Texas Live!, the Dallas Cowboys, TCU and the Horned Frogs and our new Dickies Arena.”
Sands discussed the venues, history and community that is helping sports tourism in Fort Worth.
“I believe that’s what we have here in Fort Worth, is a winning team, comprised of elected officials and community and corporate leaders, amazing venues, our first-class hotels and restaurants,” Sands said. “We have an entire community pulling in the same direction to host world class sporting events. Our community gets it. It’s about collaboration, partnership and a willingness to invest time, money and resources for the greater good.”
Sands highlighted the community efforts by pointing to the Dickies Arena which he said is a $650 million public/private partnership that will host events such as the NCAA Women’s gymnastics championship and the first and second rounds of NCAA men’s basketball. He also looked ahead saying that there will be announcements of more bookings in the next few weeks.
“Investing in the future is already starting to pay off, but there’s a very strong foundation to build off of. Fort Worth is a sports city. It’s rich in history and tradition when it comes to sports,” Sands said, pointing out historic events such as the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo, the Cowtown Marathon and the Dean & Deluca PGA Invitational at the Colonial Country Club.
He also highlighted the different partnerships that Fort Worth has such as Texas Christian University (TCU), the Arlington Convention and Visitors Bureau and Texas Live!. He also mentioned venues such as the Texas Motor Speedway, Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum, Fort Worth Convention Center, Game On Fort Worth and the Fort Worth Park and Recreation department.
“There’s great movement right now around sports tourism,” said Sands. “We’re going to continue to work with our partners to secure more events, to enhance the events that we currently have and to let the world know that Fort Worth is a great sports destination.”
Q&A with the general manager of the Rangers
Reeves interviewed Daniels about the decisions made before the latest trade deadline including the trading of Yu Darvish, Adrian Beltre and another Texas team.
Daniels said that trading Darvish was a difficult decision adding that “We were not going to give Yu Darvish away. At some point, if the return wasn’t there … if you’re not getting true talent back that’s going to help you win games in the future then I’d rather give the team that best opportunity we could.”
Daniels also touched on the relationship he has with Darvish who has been with the Rangers for six years who he said, “electrified the ball park” and that “any way you want to look at it he was one of the top 10 or so pitchers in the game over the last five/six years.”
He said that the decision to trade was made difficult given that the Rangers we not in first or last place, but in the middle of the pack.
“We have a team that when healthy and playing their best we’re confident with, but it really wasn’t the case, we played inconsistently,” Daniels said. “We’ve had some guys that haven’t totally got on track and so we waited as long as we possibly could, literally. I mean not just the last day, but the last 10 minutes or so and ultimately decided that you don’t get these opportunities all that often and if you’re not the team to beat then, here, let’s make sure that we take those opportunities to load up on some young talent to help us in the future.”
However, he said the decision wasn’t made over night and that there was no one factor that led to the trade.
“The guys, they played hard every day. They work hard every day,” Daniels said. “That’s one thing I’m really proud of that they’re in every game. It’s just we had more than one flaw. If there was one thing, it was just the bullpen or just the defense, you needed a starter, I think we would have hung in, but there was more than one issue and we didn’t feel like it made sense to chase that rather than take the opportunity to load up on some talent going forward.”
He also said that there were two relationships to take into consideration coming into the recent draft deadline, Darvish and Beltre. Daniels stated that they “kept both guys abreast of the situation just to at least know what we’re thinking. Darvish out of respect for him and Adrian just to kind of manage the clubhouse.”
He said that Beltre is under contract for this year and next year and still plays at an extremely high level although he is “not getting younger.”
“I want to give him every chance to win a ring here towards the end of his career,” Daniels said.
When asked by an audience member if Beltre would start the most games at third base in a Rangers uniform, Daniels replied that he thinks they are good, “assuming he plays through it [pulling something] like he normally does.”
“So much of it is just his ability to stay on the field. He plays through things that it’s unbelievable,” said Daniels. “I mean literally like walking boot crutches one day and we’re debating who to call up when we put him on the DL, talk through it and he comes in he’s like ‘I’ll be good tomorrow.’ The X-ray had the little white line where the break was and you can’t walk. He’s like ‘I’m good.’ Most players, you’re like, I think they’re out of their mind and put them on the DL anyway, with Adrian we think he’s out of his mind, but we know he’s actually going to play.”
Daniels also said that he hopes Beltre retires and goes into the hall of fame as a Ranger.
Daniels also commented on the success of the Houston Astros this season when asked by an audience member.
“I have two thoughts there: one is that they have done an unbelievable job, really have and I hate saying that trust me,” said Daniels. “They’ve done a really good job, they’ve executed a plan. Their position player club is loaded. The other piece of it is that the system is set up where if you’re willing to endure some really rough years you have advantages in the marketplace… and they executed against it so you’ve got to give them a ton of credit, but they lost 100 games three years in a row. Their games weren’t broadcasted on television. There’s a real cost to the fan base to the organization. Again, they executed well and they’re going to [have] a chance to win 100 games and a good chance in the post season.”