‘Weather Willing’: Stock Show expected to bring 1.2 million visitors for 2015

Scott Nishimura snishimura@bizpress.net

The 119th Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo expects to host about 1.2 million visits this year, its fourth consecutive year of more than a million. “The weather willing,” joked Ed Bass, the Fort Worth businessman and Stock Show benefactor, in a presentation Jan. 6 to the Fort Worth City Council. The projected visits include 400,000 individuals, some of whom will come several times, who will spend $56 million while at the show for tickets, souvenirs, food, beverages and other expenditures, Bass told the council in an annual Stock Show economic impact report.

About 80 percent of Stock Show visitors will be from outside Fort Worth, he said. Spending at the Stock Show will generate $1 million in tax revenue to Fort Worth and $3.5 million to Texas, Bass said. The show will run Jan. 16-Feb. 7. Bass and Mayor Betsy Price traded jokes as Bass made his presentation, with Price saying the city has been giving tutorials on proper hat and boot etiquette to the new city manager, David Cooke. “We will perfect that hat and boot etiquette by the time the show’s over,” Bass said. Bass opened his remarks by reminding the council that in 2019, the city’s new multipurpose arena at the Will Rogers Memorial Complex should be open. The Stock Show would use the new arena for the rodeo. Event Facilities Fort Worth, a nonprofit that Bass chairs, has agreed to raise half the arena’s $450 million projected cost and cap the public cost at half of that figure. Event Facilities also is expected to be named to manage the arena for the city. “Our public-private partnership is working hard on planning, design and financing so that we’ll be able to open this arena within five years,” Bass said.

The arena “will truly be multipurpose,” housing events such as concerts, basketball games, ice shows, graduations and circuses, he stressed. “Tarrant County College is excited that they’ll be able to have all of their campuses together for graduation,” he said. Bass, as is the Stock Show’s tradition, gave Price and each council member lapel badges for full access to the show and urged them to wear the badges when about town. “It is the badge of Fort Worth. This is what makes us different from that … place to the east,” he said, joking. “It is the Stock Show that teaches our children generation after generation our principles of Western heritage, the things that make Fort Worth what it is, the things that make it possible to carry out these public-private partnerships the Fort Worth way.” Price told Bass that she and her husband “are bringing the mayor of that ‘small town’ to the east to a rodeo performance” this year. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and his wife have never been, she said.