Mayor Johnson creates new Dallas City Council committee devoted to attracting, retaining pro sports franchises

Top priorities include retaining the Dallas Mavericks and Dallas Stars, as well as attracting a second NFL franchise to North Texas.

DALLAS — Mayor Eric Johnson on Tuesday announced the creation of a new City Council committee focused on attracting and retaining professional sports franchises in the city limits.

Mayor Johnson created the committee — the Ad Hoc Committee on Professional Sports Recruitment and Retention — via a memorandum to his colleagues on the City Council. Read the memorandum here.

“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.”

In recent weeks, Mayor Johnson sparked a national discussion about North Texas’ ability to host a second National Football League franchise. The mayor, who pushed the idea of a second NFL team based in southern Dallas, noted that the region is on pace to overtake the Chicago metropolitan area as the third-largest in the nation. That would make the Dallas-Fort Worth region — Mayor Johnson calls it “the mecca of football” — the largest market in the country without two professional National Football League franchises. The committee will explore the viability of such an idea.

However, the new committee will talk about much more than professional football. Mayor Johnson wants the committee to discuss strategies for using the city’s existing assets and opportunities for keeping the Dallas Mavericks and Dallas Stars franchises in the City of Dallas, attracting expansion teams, and winning relocations of existing professional sports franchises and major events.

“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.

“The City of Dallas boasts incredible assets and presents amazing opportunities for any professional sports franchise. 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.”

Mayor Johnson’s memorandum echoes the philosophy he espoused in his 2021 State of the City Address. In that speech, the mayor said that when it comes to economic development, “it’s time to assert ourselves more aggressively. Dallas is the economic engine of this region, and we need to start acting like it.”

The committee’s charges include:

Assessing the economic, fiscal, and social impacts of existing professional sports franchises on the City of Dallas, including the Dallas Mavericks and the Dallas Stars.

Assessing the economic, fiscal, and social impacts of professional sports franchises — including the Dallas Cowboys, Texas Rangers, FC Dallas, and the Dallas Wings — on other North Texas cities, such as the City of Arlington, the City of Frisco, and the City of McKinney.

Developing a strategy to retain existing professional sports franchises in the City of Dallas.

Analyzing our city’s competitive advantages for — as well as potential barriers to — attracting and retaining professional sports franchises and major sporting events.

Assessing the costs and benefits to the City of Dallas for hosting new professional sports franchises, such as a National Football League franchise, a Major League Baseball franchise, and a Women’s National Basketball Association franchise.

Developing a strategy for attracting a new professional sports franchise — such as a National Football League franchise, a Major League Baseball franchise, a Major League Soccer franchise, and a Women’s National Basketball Association franchise — to the city, if the benefits outweigh the potential costs. Potential considerations 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 akin to The Star in Frisco;
  • Potential public ownership models — akin to the model employed by the Green Bay Packers — for a new professional sports franchise in the City of Dallas; and
  • 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.

Mayor Johnson selected a lineup of committee members who are all chairs of other relevant City Council committees: Tennell Atkins, who chairs the Economic Development Committee and the Ad Hoc Committee on Legislative Affairs; Adam Bazaldua, who chairs Quality of Life, Arts, & Culture Committee and whose district includes Fair Park; Paula Blackmon, who chairs the Environment & Sustainability Committee, which is overseeing efforts to remediate Hensley Field; and Casey Thomas, who chairs the Housing & Homelessness Solutions Committee and whose district includes Hensley Field.

In addition, Mayor Johnson also created the new Ad Hoc Committee on Administrative Affairs via the memorandum sent to the City Council. To accommodate the two new committees, the mayor also dissolved the Ad Hoc Committee on COVID-19 Recovery and Assistance.

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Tristan Hallman

Tristan Hallman

Chief of Policy and Communications for Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson