Fort Worth sets $15.1M Will Rogers renovation

Scott Nishimura

Fort Worth plans to launch construction early next year on a $15.1 million renovation at the Will Rogers Memorial Center that would ease pedestrian flow between the north and south ends of the complex. The Fort Worth Stock Show, which calls Will Rogers home for its annual one-month run, is kicking in $6.5 million – or 43 percent – of the project cost. “I don’t know any other facilities owned by the public that get these (private) investments,” Kirk Slaughter, the city’s public events director, said.

City Council members gave their go-ahead on Sept. 23 to launch construction after next year’s Fort Worth Stock Show. The project would likely take until December 2015 to complete, just ahead of the 2016 Stock Show, Slaughter said. The project will extend Tower Drive from the south side of Burnett-Tandy Drive, through the section of the building connecting Cattle Barns 1 and 2 that today houses the milking parlor, and to the parking areas south of the barns. The milking parlor will move into Cattle Barn 2. The promenade between the cattle barns will be covered, creating a shaded pedestrian walkway that will make it easy for exhibitors to move freely between the north and south sides of the Will Rogers complex. The walkway also could be used as space for major events. Currently, people with horses have to walk around the barns to move between the north and south parts of the complex. The project also includes ventilation and insulation and other improvements in Cattle Barn 2 to make it more attractive to horse shows. The Stock Show agreed to have its lease extended by 12 years and annual rent raised by $343,000 for the next 20 years, to cover its gift. The City Council on Sept. 23 approved that agreement. The city’s share of the project will come from certificates of obligation, excess balance in its culture and tourism fund, the city’s share of the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport car rental tax and earned interest.