Fort Worth considers replacement for aging arena

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by SEBASTIAN ROBERTSON

Bio | Email | Follow: @wfaasebastian

WFAA

Posted on July 12, 2014 at 10:03 PM

Updated Saturday, Jul 12 at 10:20 PM

FORT WORTH — Fort Worth could soon be home to a new multipurpose arena in the city's cultural district.

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price told News 8 that a 1968-vintage facility downtown just doesn’t cut it.

"The arena at the Convention Center is totally outdated," she said. "I mean, we use it, but we get lots of complaints. Businesses who use it say, 'We're not going to come back until you get it redone.'"

The plan before the City Council on Tuesday calls for the creation of an arena at the intersection of Gendy Street and Harley Avenue, just south of the Will Rogers Memorial Center and about two miles west of the current facility.

Mayor Price said the new venue is not intended to replace the Will Rogers Coliseum, which was built in the 1930s.

Talk of a new arena is nothing new. Norman Pannell, who manages the Cattle Barn Flea Market at the Will Rogers Complex, says he's heard plans for this come and go. His concern is parking.

Pending approval from voters, funding for the proposed arena would come from the users of the venue. A portion of parking, tickets, and livestock stalls or pens used would go toward paying for the project.

"It was all free for years and years, to park and come here, and it's becoming a problem," Pannell said. "People don't want to come because of the parking."

The city is hopeful a major arena would have the opposite effect — bringing tourists to the city while expanding a convention center in need of an upgrade.

"What we've seen is a growing interest in Fort Worth," Price said. "It has a great downtown; a great community; great restaurants; great activity; and people want to come here, and we don't have quite the facilities we need to do it."

Council members vote on the resolution authorizing the arena on Tuesday. Voters will have final say on the project.

E-mail srobertson@wfaa.com

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