DALLAS — The midterm elections brought about the approval of Proposition A in Dallas, a bill that implements a “tourism tax” designed to generate funding for renovations of Fair Park and the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Dallas (KBHCCD).
The proposition will increase the hotel occupancy tax from 13% to 15%; this 2% hike is expected to generate $1.5 billion over a 30-year period. This revenue will be used to pay off the bonds that will initially fund the construction, ensuring that the tax burden does not fall on Dallas residents. The measure passed with 68% of the vote, signaling the community’s enthusiasm to welcome larger events.
The convention center expansion is tentatively slated for completion in 2026. Construction is anticipated to double both the revenue and capacity of the convention center. Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson estimated that the convention center failed to book nearly 950 events over the past 15 years due to the lack of updates for the KBHCCD, as reported by MSN. These are issues that will be addressed now that funding is in place.
Since February 2021, the City of Dallas has been developing a Master Plan for the KBHCCD. In addition to overhauling the square footage contained within the center and building new convention spaces, the Master Plan will also feature an integrated transportation hub.
In February 2022, after spending a year developing and considering options, the Dallas City Council selected a plan called West of Lamar. Once completed, the renovations will include large ballrooms with outdoor terraces and views of the city. Additionally, Lamar Street which runs along the length of the proposed expansion, would see a portion reconfigured into a central lobby for the venue.
While the majority of the funding will be directed to the expansion of the KBHCCD, the 277-acre recreational complex known as Fair Park will also receive a portion earmarked for renovations. Originally built in 1936, Fair Park is home to a variety of facilities, including the Cotton Bowl, Centennial Hall, Automobile Building, Fair Park Band Shell and Fair Park Coliseum, which will be getting substantial upgrades. Additionally, more green spaces will be built within the park.