The Dallas City Council voted unanimously 11-0 to rename the Dallas Convention Center the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in honor of the state’s retired U.S. senator, who served from 1993 until this year. The move puts Dallas in line with other major cities which have named their convention centers for political leaders but is especially significant in that this is the first major convention center in the country named for a woman.
Hutchison’s legacy includes bringing federal tax dollars to Texas for a host of projects, including the Trinity River project in Dallas. Her work was enough to unite Democrats and Republicans on a city council that is often fragmented.
As for the renaming of a venue that takes out the city’s name and inserts a name that might not be known to most outside of Texas, the issue of how the brand is impacted bears watching.
“In this case, I’m not sure it adds or detracts (from the brand),” said Darin David, senior director/sponsorships at The Marketing Arm, a part of Omnicom Group Inc.
David acknowledged that in naming a venue for a politician there is always the potential for the decision to be polarizing, but he doubts that impacts the name’s usage.
“It fits with the Texas tradition of naming highways for politicians (LBJ, Bush Tollway, etc.),” said David. “The good news is that I think it humanizes the building and, to some extent, gives it a face.”
That face will shape immediately as the main signs around the convention center are being changed, just the first step in unveiling the Katy Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.