DALLAS — Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson is doubling down on his interests to bring Dallas a second NFL team.
Mayor Johnson made headlines earlier this month by responding to an NFL on CBS tweet asking about which city deserves a pro football expansion team. Obviously, Johnson made a pitch for Dallas.
"I know that there is significant economic development opportunities that professional sports teams represent, and I want to make sure Dallas is at the heart of that conversation in terms of competing with the rest of the metroplex," Johnson told WFAA during an interview Tuesday.
"We are about to pass the Chicago metro and become the #3 metro in the US, which would make us the largest US metro WITHOUT 2 teams," Johnson said in a tweet. "Football is king here. Dallas needs an expansion team and we would be able to sustain 2 @NFL teams better than LA or NY."
In a city memo on Tuesday, Johnson announced the creation of a new city council committee focused on attracting and retaining professional sports franchises in the city limits.
The committee is called the Ad Hoc Committee on Professional Sports Recruitment and Retention.
Johnson said adding a second NFL team to Dallas would be "transformative."
"We're into football here like nobody else in the country," Johnson said. "I happen to believe that the North Texas area can absolutely sustain two NFL teams because I know how much we love football in this area."
“Dallas is the best sports city in the country right now,” said Mayor Johnson, who will serve as the committee’s chairman. “But for too long, Dallas has been too passive when it comes to attracting and retaining professional sports franchises. Dallas is a big-league city, and this new committee will help us compete at the highest level.”
According to a press release from the mayor's office, Johnson is asking the committee to come up with strategies for using the city’s existing assets and opportunities to attract expansion teams (such as this hypothetical second Dallas NFL franchise, a Major League Baseball franchise, and/or a Women’s National Basketball Association franchise) -- while also keeping the Dallas Mavericks and Dallas Stars franchises in the City of Dallas.
“The City of Dallas has already lost out on too many professional sports-related economic development opportunities over the years,” Mayor Johnson wrote in the memo. “The *Dallas* Cowboys are based in the City of Frisco and play in the City of Arlington. FC Dallas plays in the City of Frisco. The Texas Rangers play in the City of Arlington in a brand-new stadium that should have been built in Downtown Dallas. The *Dallas* Wings also play in the City of Arlington. The Professional Golfers’ Association of America no longer hosts any tournaments in the City of Dallas, as the AT&T Byron Nelson is now played in the City of McKinney."
These sentiments are consistent with his tweet he sent on May 6, where Johnson said "the City of Dallas won’t be allowing any more teams who don’t actually have any of their assets located within our city limits use our name, so if the NFL wants the Frisco Chargers or Frisco Jaguars to be their next expansion team, that’s their call."
Another overlapping aspect of this story is Johnson's desire for the "second NFL team" to play its games in southern Dallas, which he also tweeted about. Considerations for this committee, at the recommendation of Johnson, include:
- The renovation of historic Cotton Bowl Stadium to National Football League standards and the Fair Park Coliseum to Women’s National Basketball Association standards, including through the use of funds available following an affirmative vote in the November 2022 “Brimer Bill” election.
- The development of Hensley Field into a professional sports stadium site, a world headquarters, and/or a practice facility.
- Potential public ownership models — like the Green Bay Packers — for a new professional sports franchise in the City of Dallas.
- Strategies to facilitate and encourage the participation of historically underrepresented groups — such as African Americans, Latinos, and women — in equity ownership of any new professional sports franchises.
The Cotton Bowl at Fair Park historically hosted the Dallas Cowboys from 1960 to 1971 and is also the annual destination of the Red River Showdown between UT and OU.
The committee is made up of the following people:
- Tennell Atkins, city council member (district 8) and chairs of the Economic Development Committee and the Ad Hoc Committee on Legislative Affairs
- Adam Bazaldua, city council member whose district (7) includes Fair Park and chair of the Quality of Life, Arts, & Culture Committee
- Paula Blackmon, city council member (district 9) and chairs the Environment & Sustainability Committee, which is overseeing efforts to remediate Hensley Field
- Casey Thomas, city council member (district 3) and chairs the Housing & Homelessness Solutions Committee and whose district includes Hensley Field
“The City of Dallas boasts incredible assets and presents amazing opportunities for any professional sports franchise," Johnson said. "It is long past time for the City of Dallas to play to win these franchises and events. That means we must be more proactive, assertive, and strategic. And we must develop a game plan that enhances our competitiveness internationally, nationally, and within our own region, which is the fastest-growing major metropolitan area in the United States.”
You can read the full city memo here.