What’s Dallas Going to Do with Fair Park?

The state’s fairgrounds cost $12 million a year but only bring in about $3 million during the State Fair every September.

By Michael MarksAugust 31, 2016 2:47 pm

For most Texans, Fair Park in Dallas has fleeting significance. They go to the State Fair, stuff themselves on fried food, take a turn on the Ferris wheel, then go home. That’s the way it goes for one month of the year.

But the park is still there — though little used — for the other eleven months of year. Its 277 acres of South Dallas real estate pose a problem for the city. One proposal on the table suggests turning the publicly owned land over to a private foundation. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings wants to hammer out a deal by September 21, but city council and Dallasites alike have questions about what the final agreement will look like.

Dallas Morning News city columnist Robert Wilonsky says the problem is that it costs the city $12 million a year but only makes $3 million during the State Fair.

“One of the biggest problems is the fact that the buildings in Fair Park are falling apart,” he says. “So there are hundreds of millions of dollars of capital needs that the city has not put into it. Nor, for that matter, has the State Fair of Texas, which is the main tenant… during those three weeks when (the Fair) happens during the fall.”

What you’ll hear in this segment:

– How handing off the fairgrounds to a foundation would take money away from Dallas

– What problems the foundation can fix with bond money from the city

– How the empty parking lots surrounding the Fair Park have been bad for the nearby neighborhoods