The legendary Longhorn Ballroom will return this spring, Edwin Cabaniss said Thursday in a statement. The spring lineup has yet to be announced.
The Longhorn Ballroom was first established in 1950 as Bob Wills Ranch House. Since then, the venue hosted various musical acts from country-western icons such as Willie Nelson and Loretta Lynn to rockers like the Sex Pistols and Red Hot Chili Peppers to jazz musicians such as Nat King Cole.
Whether audiences were two-stepping, headbanging, or finger-snapping, the Longhorn Ballroom embodied Texas’ eclectic culture.
However, crumbling city infrastructure, failed renovation plans, and pandemic closures left the Longhorn Ballroom a shell of its former self. As its main stage fell into disrepair, preservationists wondered whether the venue would be demolished.
Upon seeing the sorry state of the Longhorn Ballroom, Cabaniss vowed to return it to its former glory by investing an undisclosed amount — “millions,” he said — toward its renovation.
“You don’t have to be from Dallas to appreciate the history of the Longhorn Ballroom. But being a Texan, I’m especially proud to revive this iconic venue,” said Cabaniss.
Cabaniss’ past projects include the Kessler Theater in Oak Cliff and the Heights Theater in Houston. At a 2,000-person capacity and 23,000 square feet, the Longhorn Ballroom is his largest project to date.
On Thursday, he released a video on YouTube of the renovations. Throughout the video, workers installed a 6,000-pound, 60-foot steel beam, replaced piping, and refurbished woodwork.
Once opened, the Longhorn will be decorated with display cases toting guitars and memorabilia from influential musicians such as Stevie Ray Vaughan, James Brown, and Waylon Jennings, Cabaniss said.
The City of Dallas provided $4.1 million to complete the project, $1.4 million of which was allocated toward the surrounding infrastructure. Located on the intersection of Corinth and South Riverfront, the area surrounding the Longhorn Ballroom has poor drainage and no sidewalks. Kevin Spath, the assistant director of the Office of Economic development, described it as “pavement to dirt.”
“[The Longhorn Ballroom] is placed in a part of town that we allowed because of neglect by our city to fail,” said South Dallas/Fair Park Councilman Adam Bazaldua. “But we are investing to see it succeed again.”
Cabaniss hopes the project will uplift South Dallas and generate half a million in annual revenue. Once the Longhorn Ballroom opens successfully, he plans to refurbish the second building into an open-air shopping center and hub for artists.
“This will be a place for the community to come together, a place to dance, to hear their favorite bands, and to discover new acts,” Cabaniss continued. “For decades and decades, the Longhorn has been this place in the community. My team and I at Kessler Presents are honored to be its steward.”