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Fort Worth looking to help network relocate to Stockyards

🕐 3 min read

Taking a cue from the folks in New York, Fort Worth and its Stockyards may soon be on televisions from coast to coast.

Fort Worth Economic Development Director Robert Sturns made a presentation to the City Council at its Nov. 8 work session, recommending approval of an agreement between the EDP and Rural Media Group Inc. (RMG). The agreement supports a corporate relocation project for RMG to the Stockyards. It also supports a community facilities agreement with Fort Worth Heritage Development LLC for subsequent public improvements in the Stockyards.

“Think of the Today Show in Rockefeller Center or WFAA in Victory Plaza,” Sturns said.

Both of those have programming that allows the viewers to not only see programming inside a studio, but to also see activity outside. For example, a performer could put on a show or concert with the public gathering around. That same public can be seen by the TV viewers while watching a program that is being aired.

Sturns said this is the culmination of a four-year effort to bring the RMG headquarters to Fort Worth from its current locations Nashville, Tennessee, and Omaha, Nebraska.

RMG is the parent company of RFD-TV, the nation’s first network devoted to agribusiness and Western sports. Sturns noted that it is broadcast in over 50 million households.

“This development would bring some national exposure to the Stockyards,” he said.

Sturns said there have also been discussions between RMG and the city of Durango, Colorado, as the Professional Bull Riders headquarters is there. Also, RMG are considering consolidating their offices into Omaha.

The project would bring a 6,000-square-foot studio to the Stockyards’ mule barns area. It would also bring up to 150 employees to Fort Worth.

However, Sturns noted that cost is a barrier for RMG’s potential relocation, hence the work with Fort Worth Heritage, the city, tax increment funding (TIF) and the state to make this happen.

The overall cost is a projected $7.8 million, Sturns said, which could be funded through a community facilities agreement capped at $7.9 million. Should the cost exceed that, the rest would be covered by Heritage, he said. Also, if RMG does not relocate or stay for the full 10 years of the proposed lease agreement, a provision is in place to recapture the funds.

RMG’s part of the agreement would include a minimum $5 million investment, with a guarantee of 90 full-time employees by 2021 and 135 by 2023. Also, RMG would guaranteed a $15 minimum wage.

RMG would also make commitments for local and minority/women owned businesses.

In addition, RMG would enter into an agreement with the city and the Convention and Visitors Bureau to promote verbal and visual references to Fort Worth and the Stockyards. This would include a minimum of 100 hours of annual live or ongoing content filmed locally.

“Based on an independent study, that’s about a $17 million media value,” Sturns said.

In connection with the potential relocation is the moving up of public improvements to the Stockyards, including Main Street to Packer Street and sewer line upgrades and rerouting from Mule Avenue to 23rd Street, near the Old Spaghetti Warehouse location. By accelerating those public improvements in that area would allow the developers of the Stockyards redevelopment project help RMG with relocation costs.

District 5 Councilwoman Gyna Bivens asked Sturns to be certain diversity is addressed in the project. She noted as examples the National Multicultural Western Heritage Museum and Hall of Fame and the North Side Hispanic Western Culture.

“We have great diversity in the Western history we share,” she said.

District 2 Councilman Sal Espino added that making sure the Fort Worth brand is consistent throughout is important.

“Nothing is more frustrating to a Fort Worthian than when you arrive at DFW Airport and they say, ‘Welcome to Dallas,'” he said.

Sturns said the project will be on the council’s Nov. 15 agenda. Should it be approved, he likes the chances of RMG bringing its headquarters to Fort Worth.

“I think it’s really a natural fit for them,” he said. “This is where the West begins.”

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