The Fort Worth City Council took a step Nov. 15 that could lead to the city and its legendary Stockyards being a regular on network television.
The council approved an agreement between the city’s economic development group and Rural Media Group (RMG) Inc. The agreement supports a corporate relocation project for RMG to the Stockyards, along with a community facilities agreement with Fort Worth Heritage Development LLC for public improvements in the Stockyards.
Economic Development Director Robert Sturns equated the proposed RMG broadcasts from the Stockyards to those of the Today Show in New York’s Rockefeller Center or Dallas’ WFAA TV in Victory Plaza. Both of those have programming that allows the viewers to not only see programming inside a studio, but to also view activity outside.
Sturns said there has been a four-year effort to bring RMG headquarters to Fort Worth. It is currently based in Nashville, Tennessee, and Omaha, Nebraska.
RMG is also the parent company of RFD-TV, the nation’s first network devoted to agribusiness and Western sports. It is broadcast in over 50 million households.
Though the council has given approval, the relocation is not a done deal. Sturns said there have also been discussions between RMG and Durango, Colorado, as the Professional Bull Riders headquarters are there. RMG also is considering consolidating its 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 and the state to make this happen.
The overall cost is projected to be $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. 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 $15-an-hour minimum wages.
RMG would also make commitments for Fort Worth and central city governments, 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, something Sturns said is worth about $7 million.
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.