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John Crawford: Sports Bring Energy, Economic Impact to Downtown Dallas

John Crawford

We’ve spent some time since last Thursday’s Dallas Mavericks celebration basking in the glory of team’s success—and closely examining the positive impact such activities have on downtown.

Dallas has long been known as a city driven by sports. From the legacy of the Cotton Bowl to the popularity of the Dallas Stars and Texas Rangers, international awareness of “America’s Team,” the Dallas Cowboys, and of course, our Mavs, these institutions bring the community together and provide real economic impact—a combined $900 million for the region, in fact.

Taking a more micro view, we can see, particularly over the last year, how downtown has become the hub for sports-related activities, putting us on the map nationally as a top-tier city.

In the last 12 months the North Texas region has hosted the NBA All Star game, Super Bowl XLV, the World Series, and the NBA finals. In 2012, Dallas will host the media summit for the London Olympics. In 2014, the NCAA Final Four will come to the area. Although some of these events take place outside of downtown, the activity, excitement, and infusions into the city center’s economy are undeniable. Direct benefits are felt in our hotels, shops, and restaurants. Indirectly, the national and international media have steadily held their eye on our skyline, exposing new markets to all that Dallas has to offer.

More than 250,000 people filled downtown’s streets last Thursday for the Maverick’s victory parade. In the final games leading up to the win, Main Street was bumper-to-bumper with fans celebrating their team in the heart of the city. Restaurants and pubs were brimming, residents and employees were flocking to the streets, and tens of thousands of others were drawn from across the region to discover a multitude of new developments in the area.

What the newcomers see is a renewed downtown, the result of more than 35,000 residents, 135,000 employees, and more than 350 shops and restaurants. They also see cranes—yes, we’re counting them again, in celebration of the nearly complete Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, set to open next March; the City Performance Hall in the Dallas Arts District; the Perot Museum of Nature and Science; the Omni Dallas Convention Center Hotel; The Park (Woodall Rodgers Park); Museum Tower; and Belo Garden. We expect a few more cranes to be standing high in the skyline before the end of the year with at least two new residential projects set to break ground.

The relationship between development and these sports initiatives may not be immediately evident. But if you think back a decade ago to our loss of the Boeing headquarters and its resonating reason—a “dead” downtown—then compare that to what our new companies are now saying as to why they are moving here—a “vibrant” downtown—the correlation becomes clearer.

Sports bring activity, community, and again, real positive impact that betters the quality of life for all. For that reason, I want to thank organizations like the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau who understand this correlation and focus a great deal of effort on bringing sports-related activities and conventions to the region. Recognition also goes to the Dallas Police Department, which so expertly managed last week’s parade, as well as the Super Bowl, All Star game, and other related activities.

Like I often say, “As goes downtown, so goes Dallas.” And in this case, as we bask in the afterglow of the Mavericks’ victory, we can also revel in the future success of our teams, our city, and our downtown.

John F. Crawford is president and CEO of Downtown Dallas Inc. Contact him at crawford@downtowndallas.org.

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7 comments on “John Crawford: Sports Bring Energy, Economic Impact to Downtown Dallas

  1. I was just thinking, as my little car bumped down the gnarly stretch of patchworked concrete also called Hillcrest Road, that I was so glad the Mavericks victory has brought so much to Downtown Dallas. Oh look! Somehow they found some money to paint the fence in front of the dumptsters at Hillcrest High School! Now all those people cutting through the heart of our neighborhood to drive Downtown won’t have to see the ugly metal containers. Back to thoughts – anyhow, as I was passing the empty, ravaged moonscape at Walnut Hill and Central and relishing the sales taxes generated to feed the downtown TIF more development dollars, I wondered, with all this success and all, if they city wouldn’t soon need a SECOND convention center hotel. Because with that new Arts District building (once it gets up and actually going that is), and all the success Downtown now has, surely the city must plan ahead. At this point I slapped my head, because I had a few library books in the back seat I meant to return, because who knows how long they’ll be staying open. No time to turn around! I have to get to my non-Downtown business quickly, to open the doors so my tax revenue can help generate even more success for Dallas – Downtown.

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  2. @Borborygmus, downtown Dallas has been getting the shaft (in favor of Uptown and the suburbs) for decades. Let it enjoy its time in the spotlight and quit blaming the entire city’s problems on downtown Dallas.

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  3. Mr. Crawford, can you please elaborate on the 2 new residential projects you expect to break ground this year? Thanks.

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  4. You do realize that to the other 95% of Dallas, Uptown is Downtown. And who cares about the suburbs – we’re talking about Dallas taxes.

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  5. Very well put. The impact sports have on the downtown/uptown area is phenomenal. What amazes me is that some people still do not realize that Dallas downtown rivals most. Dallas is not LA, Miami, Chicago or NY and doesn’t need to in order to be a success. What makes Dallas, great is the combination of all major metro areas.

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  6. As a downtown resident, what attracts me to downtown is that it offers the closest thing in the region to an authentic, historic urban lifestyle (old buildings, the bustle of a huge employment center, the sound of trains, cultural venues, the ability to walk to some places, access to trails, etc.). What I like even more is its immense potential as true cosmopolitan world-class downtown, and all it needs is the things described in the Downtown 360 plan: much more investment and many thousands more residents, A REAL GROCERY STORE and other big-city amenities.

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