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Opinion Dickies Arena tops out: Project on track for 2019 opening

Dickies Arena tops out: Project on track for 2019 opening

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Robert Francis
Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

Dickies Arena

Capacity: 14,000 seats

Opening date: November 2019

Owner: City of Fort Worth

Management: Trail Drive Management Corp. (TDMC), a not-for-profit operating entity

Cost: $540 million, city participation capped at $225 million

Architect: HKS is the architect of record, working with David M. Schwarz

Contractor: The Beck Group

A parking garage with 2,200 spaces on six levels is already open.


A beam went up in the air the morning of June 25 at the Dickies Arena, signaling the “topping out” ceremony for the new $560 million facility that promises to add another element to Fort Worth’s Cultural District.

Trail Drive Management Corp. (TDMC), the not-for-profit operators of Dickies Arena, and the general contractors, The Beck Group, celebrated the construction milestone with TDMC Chairman Ed Bass, The Beck Group’s CEO Fred Perpall and Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price speaking at the event before a crowd of city leaders and about 900 workers.

“Our citizens voted in favor of this arena in 2014, a great vote of confidence,” Price said. “They knew a growing city needed a beautiful arena. Not just for the Stock Show, but for concerts, for basketball, for graduations. You name it, we’ll have it here. … This new arena is the perfect complement for our growing city.

“We are the envy of the nation,” Price said, noting she was at a meeting of city officials from around the country recently when the subject of public event facilities came up.

“I mentioned we’re building a 14,000-seat arena for $225 million, and someone said you can’t build it for that,” she said. “I said ‘No, but our private partners can build it for $540 million with the city’s contribution capped at $225 million.’ ”

Price also touted the arena’s acoustics.

“Have you been to Bass Hall?” she asked, then said the new arena will rival that performance space for sound quality.

A topping out ceremony is traditionally held when the last beam is placed at the top of a structure during construction. For some, the evergreen tree – which was mounted on the center of the beam – is a marker of good luck and prosperity. Many workers and city leaders signed the beam before it was raised to the top of the arena amid fanfare and cheers.

Before the final beam was lifted to the highest point in the building, Bass thanked the workers who have been involved in the project.

“We’re here today to celebrate an important milestone in the construction of this building, but even more so, we’re here today to say thank you,” Bass said. “Thank you to all of the 3,544 workers who have participated in building Dickies Arena so far. [They] have contributed 1,839,564 man-hours to bring us to the approximately 50 percent completion rate today.”

Beck’s Perpall acknowledged the Fort Worth community’s support and the dedication of the construction team, both at Beck and with the other subcontractors on the site.

“We like to say, we can build communities by building buildings,” Perpall said. “When we’re at our best, we can build people when we’re building buildings. And I’m really proud of the work our team has done here to integrate our local Fort Worth business community. … It is truly only as a team that you can succeed.”

The arena – located next to the Will Rogers Memorial Center – is set for completion by late 2019 in time for the 2020 Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo.

The result of a public-private partnership between the City of Fort Worth, Tarrant County, the state of Texas and a group of private-sector participants, including foundations, individuals and organizations – the arena will be owned by the City of Fort Worth and managed by TDMC.

The multipurpose arena will host concerts, sporting events and family entertainment, and will be the new home to Fort Worth Stock Show rodeo performances.

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