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Wednesday, November 30, 2022
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Expansion Plan for Local Convention Center Moves Forward


Fort Worth Convention Center | Image by WFAA

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The Fort Worth Convention Center is slated to get a few updates. On Tuesday, members of the city council selected a team of architects who will be tasked with designing the first phase of the expansion.

Phase 1 includes constructing new food and beverage facilities, demolishing the annex, realigning Commerce Street to create space for a future convention hotel, and rebuilding the center’s loading docks.

This phase is anticipated to begin construction in mid-2023 and be completed in 2026.

The second phase of the project will reportedly include demolishing the 1968 arena and creating approximately 97,000 square feet of net new exhibit hall space, 48,000 square feet of meeting rooms, and a new 50,000-square-foot ballroom. There are also plans to renovate the current facility, which was expanded in 2003.

Mike Crum, director of the city’s public events department, told WFAA that this is a vital step in the project development.

The city has chosen two firms to design and construct the first phase of the expansion: Atlanta-based global architectural design firm Thompson, Ventulett, Stainback & Associates Inc. (TVS Design), and Fort Worth-based firm Bennett Partners.

“The two together will produce the type of Convention Center that this community needs in the future,” Crum said. “It’s a bigger building, a modern building. It’s a building that says you’re in Fort Worth, Texas.”

Michael Bennett, principal at Bennett Partners, told WFAA that he is eagerly anticipating working on the project and designing the expansion of a place he frequented while growing up in Fort Worth.

“They (TVS Design) bring the world-class knowledge of world-class convention centers, and we bring deep local roots,” Bennett said. “We hope that it’s really reflective of what people expect when they come to Fort Worth. It also needs to be a place that looks forward, because Fort Worth is more than just its cowboy past. We’re a lot more than that,” said Bennett.

The city-owned convention center’s expansion has been in the works for a decade. The project was set to begin with funding from hotel occupancy taxes, but the COVID-19 pandemic led to a three-year delay.

Once the project was able to restart, the Fort Worth City Council approved $52 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds to support the first phase of the planned expansion.

According to city leaders, the second phase will be funded when hospitality taxes recover.

The entire expansion is expected to double the number of conventions and meetings the city can host, as well as boost the city’s hospitality industry, which reportedly brings in $26 billion in economic revenue per year.

“It’s a huge impact on our community,” Crum said.

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