Jones: Frisco's offer trumped Arlington deal for Cowboys practice facility

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by MATT GOODMAN

WFAA

Posted on August 13, 2013 at 8:04 PM

Updated Tuesday, Aug 13 at 9:24 PM

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Speaking to reporters Tuesday night at the team's training camp in Oxnard, California, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones confirmed that he had been in serious talks with Arlington to bring the team's practice facility and headquarters to the city where America's Team plays.

But he said an offer from Frisco "blew them away."

By 2016, the City of Frisco hopes the Dallas Cowboys will be spending a week of training camp in the rapidly-growing suburban hub. 

The deal is part of a 25-year contract that will relocate the Cowboys’ headquarters and practice facilities 20 miles northwest of Valley Ranch, the organization’s home for the past 28 years. 

“Our goal is to have a shovel in the ground within the year and have footballs in the air by the fall of ’16,” said Cowboys Executive Vice President Stephen Jones. 

This “aggressive” timeline was announced during a celebratory news conference Tuesday afternoon headed by Jones, his father and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, Frisco Mayor Maher Maso, Cowboys spokesman Rich Dalrymple and Frisco ISD superintendent Jeremy Lyon. 

The city and its school district will pitch in $115 million to woo the organization to Frisco, which has grown 203.9 percent since 2000, according to Census figures. The relocation will bring a five-acre office complex, a 12,000 seat indoor stadium and a 66-acre retail, hotel and restaurant district. 

The Frisco Independent School District will be able to use the stadium and two outdoor fields for extracurricular events on Thursday and Friday evenings. In addition, as mentioned above, the 25-year contract requires the Cowboys to have one week of pre-season training camp at the Frisco facility. 

In the Tuesday news conference, Jerry Jones touted the project as the first in the country to tie a professional sports team to a city’s school district –– it’s worth “doing a Harvard Business study” on it, he said with a smile.

“You have the making of creating this model and a model for the entire country that will be looked at closely,” Maso said. 

The amount the city and school district will pay was approved in a flash on Monday. The City Council OK’d the deal in a closed-door session. Three city boards met within an hour of one another followed by a school board meeting less than two hours later. The voting began at 4:45 p.m. and secured across the board approval by 8:15 p.m. 

There was no public input, nor has the city announced a tax hike to help subsidize the development. 

When asked about the speed of the votes, Maso said the courtship between the city and the organization has been long in the works. The plan was already worked out and the players on either side of the coin were familiar with it prior to Monday’s vote. 

“We have a master plan in Frisco, we know where we’re going. We have visiting sessions with our council annually and semi-annually; these decisions get on the radar,” Maso said. “What you’re seeing here is really on the tail end of our entire visioning.” 

As News 8 reported Monday, The financial breakdown looks like this:

  • The city of Frisco spends $30 million in tax revenue from the existing Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone surrounding Stonebriar Centre mall.
  • Frisco ISD will spend an additional $30 million from the same fund.
  • The Frisco Community Development Corporation also agrees to spend $25 million in sales tax revenue for the project, making it an $85 million facility, which the city will own and the Dallas Cowboys will lease.
  • Frisco ISD will have exclusive use of the facility on Thursday and Friday nights, meaning high school football teams will play there.

The complex will be housed on a 91-acre tract of land owned by Collin County at the northwest corner of the Dallas North Tollway and Warren Parkway. It will additionally bring Cowboys administrative and coaches’ offices and serve as headquarters for the cheerleaders. 

The organization will retain “in excess of 200” former employees from Valley Ranch. Jerry Jones said the Cowboys currently have 600 employees, not including players. It’s not clear how many of the 400 remaining employees work at the Dallas Cowboys Distribution Facility, which will remain in Irving.

Jones also would not commit to how much money he himself would be putting up to help build the new headquarters. However, Jones referenced the deal he made with Arlington to build what is now known as AT&T Stadium –– he had to at least match the city’s tab, which was $325 million.

“We have always over performed when it comes to spending money,” Jerry Jones said. “I had to agree with Arlington that I would spend at least $325 million, which is what they put up to build the stadium. I think I put up another $900 million to do it right. And we’re going to do it right.” 

Neither side admitted who initiated contact –– according to Stephen Jones, “it was something that came together jointly and it certainly made all the sense in the world.” 

The move to Collin County after 28 years at Valley Ranch is in line with Jerry Jones’s attempt to rebrand the Cowboys as a North Texas institution that extends beyond Dallas proper. He cited the regionally structured Super Bowl XLV as evidence that the Cowboys represented the entire area.

“When we had the Super Bowl –– and that was the North Texas Super Bowl –– Frisco was one of the main supporters of that effort; that was a regional effort,” Jones said. “When you look at what we’re about with the Dallas Cowboys, it’s a regional thing, it’s North Texas.” 

Email mgoodman@wfaa.com

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