Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson says he’s creating a new council committee to come up with ways to bring more pro sports franchises and events to the city and he’s appointing himself the head of it.
Johnson on Tuesday announced the new five-member Ad Hoc Committee on Professional Sports Recruitment and Retention in a city memo to fellow elected leaders. He noted that several teams bear the city’s name but are based in other areas around the metroplex and that the group is meant to help Dallas be more competitive in drawing more sports business.
“Dallas is the best sports city in the country right now,” Johnson said in a statement. “But for too long, Dallas has been too passive when it comes to attracting and retaining professional sports franchises.”
The creation of the council committee comes on the heels of the mayor’s tweeting on May 5 that he felt Dallas needed an NFL expansion team based in the city. He cited the metro area’s growth being on par with the amount of people in and around Chicago and suggested North Texas could sustain two football teams better than Los Angeles and New York. Each have two football teams bearing their names.
His comments went viral.
The Dallas Cowboys play in Arlington and have their practice facility and headquarters based in Frisco. Johnson was tweeting in response to an NFL on CBS question asking what cities most deserve a pro football team.
The answer is Dallas. Why? We are about to pass the Chicago metro and become the #3 metro in the US, which would make us the largest US metro WITHOUT 2 teams. Football is king here. Dallas needs an expansion team and we would be able to sustain 2 @NFL teams better than LA or NY. https://t.co/ikG0oeZq4T
— Mayor Eric Johnson (@Johnson4Dallas) May 5, 2022
The metro area population that includes Dallas, Fort Worth and Arlington is nearly 7.8 million, the fourth largest in the country just ahead of the Houston metro area, according to 2021 federal census estimates.
Chicago’s metro area is estimated at 9.5 million, followed by Los Angeles’ with almost 13 million, and almost 20 million in the New York area.
Johnson said in the memo that the committee would also prioritize keeping the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks and NHL’s Dallas Stars playing in the city, assess the impacts of teams like MLS’ FC Dallas and the WNBA’s Dallas Wings being based outside of the city, and determine if the benefits of attracting new teams outweigh the possible costs.
He said the group should consider ways the city can encourage historically underrepresented groups like women, African Americans and Latinos, into ownership positions of any new Dallas pro sports franchises.
The Mavericks and Stars play at the American Airlines Center in downtown Dallas. Both of their lease agreements to play at the arena end in 2031, said Johnson said, who believes negotiations to keep the franchises there should start sooner than later.
Also in the memo, Johnson announced that he is disbanding the council’s COVID-19 recovery and assistance committee, saying he believes related plans or proposals the group would have heard will be taken up by other council groups.
He also announced the creation of an administrative affairs committee to weigh in on internal processes related to the council itself, such as open microphone speaker rules and how the council’s mayor pro tem and deputy mayor pro tem are picked.
That committee will be lead by council member Gay Donnell Willis.
It’s unclear when the two new council committees will begin meeting and how often. Both are meant to be temporary groups.
Council committees are subgroups made up of five to seven City Council members who are meant to weigh in on city policies, projects and initiatives, and can recommend items be sent to the full council for possible adoption. The mayor decides who serves on the committees, which would now be bumped up to 13.
The pro sports recruitment and retention committee is the only panel on which Johnson has appointed himself.