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Dallas City Council Approves 10-Year Contract Extension For State Fair of Texas

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - A Dallas institution, the State Fair of Texas, will remain at Fair Park at least until 2038.

The Dallas City Council voted 11 to 3 to extend the city's contract with the State Fair of Texas by ten years, but not before there was extensive debate over a motion by Council Member Sandy Greyson to delay the vote until next year.

Greyson told council members, "We're being asked to approve a multi-year extension of an existing contract that has a lot of problematic provisions."

But Council Member Rickey Callahan disagreed and urged the council to vote. "I'm tired of talking about it. I'm ready to move on."

After the vote, Mayor Mike Rawlings told reporters this issue has been among his top priorities since entering office. "We know the State Fair is going to be here for another ten years beyond and we'll be able to talk to Texas-OU about other football games and other events that are going to happen at the State Fair. It's a great day for Dallas."

State Fair Of Texas - Big Tex
(credit: Kevin Brown/State Fair of Texas)

Mitchell Glieber, President of the State Fair of Texas said, "We're ecstatic. We wanted to be here long-term, that's what we were looking for - was a commitment from the city that they wanted us here long-term. That's what we received so its a great day for us."

But Council Member Philip Kingston, who along with Greyson and Council Member Scott Griggs opposed the vote said he felt the vote was rushed. "We're doing nothing to preserve the historic buildings. We're doing nothing to get rid of the ring of concrete around the parking lots that serve as a moat to keep out the people of South Dallas."

Mayor Rawlings acknowledged what Kingston and others pointed out. "We've got a lot of work to do, so we're not declaring victory but it's an important issue to make sure that happens."

Greyson and Kingston said they favored a delay to give Fair Park First, the non-profit organization that runs the park, more leverage down the road.

Kingston said, "All this is - is an attempt to remove leverage from Fair Park First so they cannot maintain 365 day control of key parts of the park."

Darren James, President of the Board of Directors at Fair Park First said he was pleased with the vote. "We knew going in that the State Fair needed to stay at Fair Park. We always anticipated they would be a long-term tenant."

Along with the contract extension comes changes:

The State Fair will now pay for all security costs.

It will also boost employee pay from $10 to $11.15 an hour, the livable wage in Dallas County.

That wage could grow higher each year.

James said one thing that's still to be determined is whether those increased costs to the State Fair have an impact. "There's excess revenues that are turned back over to the city that's moved into capital improvements across the park and so there could be some financial implications down the road."

Glieber said they now hope to score commitments from Texas and OU and the other schools who play football at the Cotton Bowl during the fair to play here for many years to come.

The Texas-OU game is under contract through 2025.

Glieber said, "I know the schools want to be in Dallas, their fans want to be in Dallas and there's nothing that can be compared to the experience playing that particular game."

He said they also want to extend the Grambling State-Praireview A&M match-up, which is under contract through 2020, and the Texas Southern University-Southern University game which will play the second of its two scheduled games here.

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