InMarket: How Fort Worth does it

Robert Francis

Here’s one thing I can predict with near certainty or as my grandmother used to say, “Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise.” The College Football Playoff National Championship Trophy will be in Fort Worth. Not necessarily because a certain amphibian-led college has earned it, though that could happen too. We’ll know that better after Nov. 8. But on Wednesday, Nov. 12 from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., the National Championship Trophy presented by Dr Pepper will be making a visit to the Pavilion at Sundance Square Plaza, on view for everyone.

How did it get here? In fact, how do things happen in Fort Worth? How does little ol’ Cowtown become home to cool events like ESPN’s GameDay, land deals like the Texas Motor Speedway and attract companies too numerous to mention? If you listen to KTCK The Ticket, you’ll often hear them ask: “How does Fort Worth do it?” Pretty fast, that’s how. I got a rare inside look at the process last week. Usually a lot of the groundwork has already been laid by the time I get a phone call or email asking if the Fort Worth Business Press will participate.

This time, I got in early. Really early, as in 7 a.m. on a Tuesday morning when Susan Nix of Susan Nix Consulting Group sat down next to me at a breakfast group. Nix describes herself as “someone who brings people together.” “I’m glad I sat next to you,” she said. “I need to talk to you.” Before I could wonder whose name I’d misspelled, Nix laid it all out for me. Nix and some others from Fort Worth had convinced college football playoff officials to schedule the trophy for a stop in Fort Worth. College football officials, with some help no doubt from corporate sponsors, and Plano-based Dr Pepper, send the trophy on tour to build excitement for the upcoming playoff game. And build their respective brands. The trophy will be presented to the winner of the College Football Playoff National Championship on Jan. 12, 2015. Nix and some other officials had to get on the schedule quick to make it happen, so it was only a week and some change before the trophy would make an appearance in Fort Worth. How best to showcase the trophy and how best to demonstrate to college football officials that Fort Worth is a rockin,’ rollin’ college football town.

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A few hours later, at Nix’s invitation, I was part of a meeting at the Fort Worth Convention & Visitors Bureau with attendees from Sundance Square, the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce and others figuring out how best to showcase the award. Some of the people at the table I knew, some I didn’t, but we all had a common goal: Could we make this work and was it good for Fort Worth? With only a few minutes spent on diversionary issues, we had figured out how to secure funding necessary for the event, how to publicize it (check this week’s issue) and even check the weather for the event date using one of our smartphones. The meeting was mercifully short (usually the most effective kind). Everyone, duties duly noted, went to work. The buy-in was quick and any concerns were noted, but quickly dispensed with. I know getting something huge, like GE’s locomotive plant here, takes more meetings like this, but I felt I was getting a glimpse of how things work in this city.

The next day, Andrew Yanez of Pytchblack delivered an ad for the event and after a few tweaks, it was ready. We were on our way. A few more issues remained to be ironed out via phone calls or emails, but essentially it was done. And now you college football fans and free event freaks can venture down to the Pavilion at Sundance Square Plaza on Wednesday and take a look at that College Football Trophy. And now you know how it got there. Robert Francis is editor of the Fort Worth Business Press