Frisco OKs $115 million for new Cowboys headquarters

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by DAVID SCHECHTER and TERESA WOODARD

WFAA

Posted on August 12, 2013 at 5:22 PM

Updated Monday, Aug 12 at 11:41 PM

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FRISCO — The Dallas Cowboys plan to move their headquarters to Frisco by the start of the 2016 season.

A new 12,000-seat indoor stadium will serve as their practice facility.

They'll have a five-acre office complex, and a 66-acre retail, hotel, and restaurant district will surround them.

The project will cost the City of Frisco and Frisco Independent School District $115 million, but the funds are coming from existing tax bases.

"This will be a model for the NFL," said Frisco Mayor Maher Maso after the City Council approved the deal in a closed-door session late Monday afternoon.

The Council was the second entity to give approval during a whirlwind night in Frisco: Three city boards meeting within an hour of one other, followed by a school board meeting less than two hours later.

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.

Superintendent Jeremy Lyon said the district had previously discussed building a new stadium anyway, and this gives them a much nicer facility than they could have afforded on their own.

The Cowboys organization will be responsible for maintenance and operations, according to the agreement, which FISD says will save them money in the long run.

At football practice at Heritage High School on Monday, the project was exciting news.

"I think these guys' heads will go up... eyes will light up... they'll be ready," said Artis White, whose son is a player. "Show time!"

Jacques Norris Sr. was similarly enthused about the prospects for his youngster. "I think that's great motivation, being able to experience a professional environment for these kids," he said. "It's a lot of their dreams, a lot of what they're trying to accomplish."

The Frisco Economic Development Corporation will also spend $5 million from sales tax on infrastructure and another $25 million from sales tax on the team's corporate headquarters.

The numbers were made public for the first time around 4:45 p.m., and by 8:15 all the involved entities had voted "yes."

"What was disappointing," said Frisco Tea Party Chairwoman Toni Fabry, "was that the citizens did not have a chance to be informed, more informed, and ask their questions."

She added that she understood negotiations needed to be kept secret to keep another team from trying to lure the Cowboys away with a sweeter deal. She also said the promise that no taxes would be raised and no new stream of revenue created meant she would remain "very watchful."

The City of Frisco is touting the development as a destination, and Fabry is concerned that economic conditions across the nation might mean fewer people travel to see it.

The question that's yet to be answered is: How much will the Cowboys spend as part of this deal?

"The Cowboys have never failed to invest in their facilities, never failed to invest in their programs, and we look forward to working with them as we explore how special we can make this," Mayor Maso said.

Assistant City Manager Ron Patterson said the hope is to have the stadium complete in time for the 2016 season. It could also be used for concerts, high school playoff games, and band competitions, he said.

Council member Scott Johnson couldn't restrain his excitement.

 

"At the end of the day, the Dallas Cowboys are the biggest franchise in the world... the greatest franchise in the history of sport," he said. "I'm proud to bring the Cowboys here, and I welcome the Jones family to Frisco."

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is expected to attend an 11 a.m. Tuesday news conference to discuss specifics of the arrangement.

WFAA sports reporter Joe Trahan in Oxnard, California contributed to this report.

E-mail dschechter@wfaa.com and twoodard@wfaa.com

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