Fort Worth Embraces Its Cowboy Culture – The New York Times

Fort Worth Embraces Its Cowboy Culture – The New York Times

“It’s very much a part of our identity,” Mr. Bass said. “And I think we’ll continue to definitely celebrate that.”

At the same time, the arena was designed to help Fort Worth attract major events with a variable seating system that can expand its capacity from 9,300 for rodeos to 14,000 for concerts.

Consequently, Dickies Arena, which bears the name of a Fort Worth workwear brand, is believed to be the only major arena built to anchor a rodeo but able to host other events, ranging from the March Madness basketball tournament to ice shows. The winter rodeo is the only permanently committed tenant, freeing arena officials to court other events through the remaining 11-plus months.

City leaders have long acknowledged that the city’s 1968 downtown convention center — nicknamed the “flying saucer” because of its shape — could no longer compete in attracting concerts, leaving entertainers to bypass Fort Worth in favor of Dallas. The saucer, which in better days hosted Elvis Presley and the Rolling Stones, is also slated for a renovation designed to more than double the city’s convention business.

“We realized we were missing the market on sports and concerts,” Mayor Betsy Price said. “This is going to help us a lot. This will raise the profile.”

The profile has already soared with an eclectic mix of concerts that have featured George Strait, Twenty One Pilots, the Black Keys and Lizzo. Fort Worth fans will have a chance to see the superstar gymnast Simone Biles in June when the arena hosts the United States Gymnastics Championships in a prelude to the Summer Olympics. Also booked are the first and second rounds of the N.C.A.A. men’s basketball tournament in 2022.

But from late January to early February, more than 550 truckloads of dirt — the equivalent of 8,250 tons — convert the arena into the Fort Worth Rodeo. At least a foot of dirt covers the steel-enclosed floor as riders atop thundering bulls and bucking broncs perform before thousands of spectators.

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