Let's begin with what City Manager Mary Suhm said to wrap up the February 1 council back-and-forth over the recently revived Texas Horse Park: "If y'all don't want to do this, just tell me." But, look -- it's not that everyone don't want a nice equestrian facility along the Trinity River. It's just, well, some on the council aren't terribly excited about the city coughing up $15 million in '98 and '06 bond funds and living up to its end of the deal while the Texas Horse Park gets to trot on its promise of $15 million in matching funds. Because that kinda was the deal. And in the end, all the horse park-ers could raise was $1 million, only $100,000 of which would actually go toward capital investment.
Council members like Jerry Allen and Vonciel Jones Hill kept insisting earlier this month that it's totally worth looking for an outside operator to run the $12-million Phase 1 of the horse park, which is a shadow of the originally promised project. (The city's already spent 'round $3 million on land acquisition.) Said Hill, "If it succeeds it will have the kind of impact, the kind of world-class impact, the city of Dallas talks about." Jerry Allen agrees! Unless it tanks and the city's left holding the feed bag, which was the concern of Scott Griggs, Angela Hunt and others.
Now, courtesy an economic impact study conducted by Austin-based Impact DataSource and contained in the massive briefing below, we have some idea how much revenue the horse park can expect during its first decade of operations -- $54 million, best-case scenario, once you factor in admission costs, concessions and hotel and motel dough. (By far, though, the biggest revenue generator is the most general: $28 million being spent at "local stores and other local businesses.") That's far less than the $337.6 million the council was promised earlier this month when handed projection guesstimates for the full build-out of the Texas Horse Park.
Right now, all council's being asked to do is see if there's someone interested in running the city-built-and-paid-for park; perhaps the promise of something will be better than doing nothing, we'll see. But the other question is: Will the RFP even attract a nibble? It too is provided below, and says, among other things:
It is the intention of the City to contribute approximately $12M to the development costs; however, the City will not provide contributions towards the operational, management or maintenance costs for the facility. It is the goal of the City that the facility be self-sufficient and operate with a net profit.
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