FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) — Ed Bass leaned his back against the ridged wall, over-looking the seats off the main concourse inside the new Dickies Arena. He raised one black boot behind him, resting the heel against the wall… It’s what he imagines a slew of cowboys will do when the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo moves in early next year.
That’s why the lower section of wall is lined in the same material as the floor, he explains.
The $540 million facility has its roots firmly in rodeo, but also brings all the high-end amenities of a modern arena when it opens to the public for tours later this week in Fort Worth.
Longtime businessman and philanthropist Bass, led a small tour Monday, showing off the attention to detail that has been put into the private-public partnership project.
“Having events of significance here I think will make a big difference in the way people perceive Fort Worth,” he said. “They’ll begin to see it as it really is and as we from Fort Worth see it, a really fine city.”
First envisioned decades ago as a replacement for the Will Rogers Memorial Center, the arena maintains a similar architecture, with its domed roof and a view of the city skyline.
Murals and sculptures draw a clear connection to the city’s frontier heritage. Inside, prairie grasses have been cut into the railings, and ropes decorate the tile floors.
Bass said he has enjoyed simply walking the venue, built with concourses that open up to the event floor, to keep people connected to whatever they’re coming to see. Even the private suites, are missing the dividers you would typically find, part of encouraging a sense of togetherness he said, during events. The seating height there, his wife Sasha explained, was determined by measuring how tall people would be, while wearing cowboy hats.
Managed by the non-profit Trail Drive Management Corp., the facility has already started booking NCAA sports events, and in-demand musical acts. Any money made, will go into reserve, for the long term maintenance of the arena. Even the menu is being controlled in-house, so if they need to tweak the duck poutine or pulled pork parfait, they can do it, without worrying about influences or decisions from an outside company.
It’s an opportunity Bass believes is unique to Fort Worth.
“I’m giving a piece of my wealth, at a time when it’s more immediately useful,” he said, when asked about the size of his gift to the project. “And I can participate, and I can guide it, the way that I envision.”