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$250M Fair Park renovation plan to go on November ballot for Dallas voters

If the ballot item is approved by Dallas voters in November, it would mark the largest capital improvement project ever for Fair Park.

DALLAS — Buildings at Fair Park represent so much of Dallas' history and tradition, but they have been slowly crumbling away and are in need of repair. Those buildings could potentially get restored.

Dallas City Council approved Wednesday a resolution, 14-1, that will ask voters to approve a hotel tax hike to pay for renovations to Fair Park and expand the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center. Councilmember Cara Mendelsohn was the sole "no" vote.

The amended resolution, if approved by voters on the November ballot, would increase the city’s hotel occupancy tax by 2% and would distribute $250 million to renovate six venues in Fair Park. Those venues include: the Cotton Bowl, the Auto Building, the Centennial Building, the Band Shell, the Music Hall and the Coliseum.

If the ballot item is approved by Dallas voters in November, it would mark the largest capital improvement project ever for Fair Park.

The measure would also give the city $50 million to tear down and rebuild the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center.

Officials say Fair Park's renovations would be funded solely by this hotel tax hike, thanks to the State’s newly amended “Brimer Bill.” The law, which was passed in 1997, was used as a mechanism to fund the construction of the American Airlines Center. At the time, the law only applied to stadiums, convention centers and entertainment districts, but excluded parks.

RELATED: Dallas city council votes to move forward with plans for new downtown convention center

Now, 80% of the increase in hotel occupancy tax dollars would go to the convention center redo – which is priced at $2 billion – and 20% would go to Fair Park.

Earlier this month, officials released renderings for the "Community Park at Fair Park," which has its own price tag of $85 million. It is part of the Fair Park Your Park Capital Campaign, which launched in spring 2021. "Community Park at Fair Park" is scheduled to break ground in early 2023 and open in fall 2024, according to officials.

Supporters of Fair Park renovations said this would help both Fair Park and the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center host and attract events to the city. It is important to note that the 2026 World Cup Soccer sites will be announced in the coming months. City officials hope these renovations to the Cotton Bowl and expedition sites may improve Dallas’ chances in that bid.

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