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Monday, April 12, 2021

Icon of the Year: Dickies Arena invests in future, history

Dickies Arena

Seating capacity

Concerts: 12,500 -14,000

Basketball: 13,300

Family Shows & Hockey: 12,200

Horse Shows & Rodeo: 9,300

Cost: Total project cost will be about $540 million, including parking, infrastructure and roads. Public source funding is capped at $225 million.

Funding sources: A group of private-sector participants (foundations, individuals and organizations) will provide half the cost. Public funding from several dedicated sources will pay the other half.

Completion date: Expected in late 2019, in time to host events for the 2020 Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo.

Parking: A nearby parking garage has 2,200 spaces on six levels.

Coliseum: The nearby Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum, part of the Will Rogers Memorial Center designed by architect Wyatt C. Hedrick that opened in 1936, will continue to serve as a major equestrian venue.

Architect: HKS, architect of record

Contractor: The Beck Group, lead contractor

For all the new developments, high-toned retail, hip venues and luxury pick-up trucks, Fort Worth can’t escape its rough-hewn roots. Not that it should try to.

That’s why we choose Dickies Arena as the Icon of the Year for 2017.

The project, still underway as you read this, is both a testament to the rough, rowdy, dusty and hard scrabble past that contributed so much to this city and an enormous expression of confidence in the future.

A future, we might add, that will include a good, heaping, helping of the past.

The arena – at the corner of Harley Avenue and Gendy Street – is scheduled to open in November 2019, in time for use during the 2020 Stock Show and Rodeo, supplanting the current venue Will Rogers Coliseum, which will continue to be used for other equestrian events.

It is being built not only to serve the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo but also to host concerts, sporting events and community events year round.

Dickies Arena has already corralled events such as the NCAA Men’s Basketball First and Second Round games in 2022 and the NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships in 2020-2022.

Aside from steeping itself in the rich cultural history of Fort Worth, the project also epitomizes one facet of the city’s past that has stood the area well over the long term: partnership.

As far back as when Fort Worth became the county seat to attracting rail service to building Dallas Fort Worth International Airport to the Alliance project, partnerships have been vital to the economic health of the city.

The arena project is no different.

At $540 million, it is a joint effort by the city – voters went to the polls in 2014 – and Event Facilities Fort Worth, the city’s private partner on the project, which is overseeing construction and its operations.

Event Facilities is headed by Fort Worth financier Ed Bass. The city’s contribution is capped at $225 million. Multipurpose Arena Fort Worth (MAFW) is the not-for-profit entity that will handle operations of the facility.

Also reflecting on the city’s history and its future is the name: Dickies Arena.

In April, the Williamson-Dickie Manufacturing Co., a renowned Fort Worth-based manufacturer of Dickies work clothing and related products, secured the naming rights.

“We’re particularly pleased that we have a Fort Worth company, a hometown company, a company founded 95 years ago that’s been actively involved in the Stock Show in particular,” Bass said during the announcement. “But really, if you look at what people wear, it evolved in the very life of our community with their high quality workwear. We just feel we’re lucky that there’s something that has a strong identity and is such a Fort Worth fit.”

Williamson-Dickie sells its products in more than 100 countries across six continents, employs more than 7,000 and operates a network of stores under various brands including Dickies, Workrite, Kodiak, Terra, Walls, Big Smith, Liberty and Duxbak. According to a news release, on a trailing 12-month basis, Williamson-Dickie generated approximately $875 million of revenue. The company has about 1,000 local employees at its Vickery Boulevard headquarters and distribution center.

In August, Williamson-Dickie was sold to VF Corp. for $820 million, becoming a wholly owned subsidiary of the Greensboro, North Carolina-based company.

But the name – and the naming rights – will stand as the arena takes a step into the future, while paying homage to our past.

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