By Julian Bowman
Fair Park First, the non-profit organization charged with management and stewardship of Fair Park, announced the start of Phase 1 of the “Fair Park, Your Park” capital campaign, which will seek to raise $85 million in the next five years. The Honorable and Mrs. George W. Bush will serve as Honorary Chairs, while Ambassador Ron Kirk and his wife Matrice, along with Margo Ramirez Keyes and Jim Keyes, will serve as the Unity Co-Chairs.
During President Bush’s presidency, Fair Park gained recognition from the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, the National Park Service, and other cultural agencies with Saving America’s Treasures. Like the Bushes, the Kirks and Keyes are proud Texans and have served as leaders at both the local and national scales.
“Jewels like Fair Park are gathering places that connect people from all walks of life. Parks shape our community and culture and bring us together,” Darren L. James, President of Fair Park First, said. “Support from President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush, and our Unity Co-Chairs, the Kirks and Keyes, speak to the importance of this phase of the Fair Park Master Plan implementation. Recognizing their belief in Fair Park’s future and its significance to the city, state and nation is humbling. We are fortunate and glad to have their support in this important endeavor.”
Today, Fair Park continues to be a focal point of activation in North Texas and one of the most highly visited destinations in the state. It hosts the annual State Fair of Texas®, major sporting events at Cotton Bowl® Stadium, Broadway shows at the Music Hall, concerts at Dos Equis Pavilion, and a wide variety of educational and cultural activities at the African American Museum, Texas Discovery Gardens, Band Shell, and the Hall of State. Thirty of the original buildings constructed for the Texas Centennial still host events, but many of those structures and other critical elements need refurbishment.
“In true Texan spirit, a restored and revitalized Fair Park will serve as a beacon of unity to all Texans and the world,” Brian Luallen, Executive Director of Fair Park First, said.
In close partnership with Spectra, Fair Park First is tasked with restoring, revitalizing, and renewing Fair Park. It has received unanimous Dallas City Council approval for a 20-year Master Plan Update to restore and put the “park” back in Fair Park. The initiative will maintain and enhance the park’s educational, entertainment, and cultural activities while creating spacious green belts with fountains, splash parks, and natural Texas landscapes. These updates will transform Fair Park into a family-friendly, 365 day-a-year sustainable destination.
“This campaign will create beautiful green spaces that will benefit the local neighborhoods, designed by Studio-MLA, and enhance the Park operators’ ability to attract new events and permanent attractions,” Margo Ramirez Keyes, Executive Campaign Council Chair and Unity Co-Chair, said. “The goal is to re-activate Fair Park and create a vibrant, catalytic hub of activity that will inspire positive economic activity in the area.”
The Fair Park, Your Park Capital Campaign will look to raise $85 million for Phase 1 of the Master Plan Update with partners Biederman Redevelopment Ventures and Rise360 Consulting. This phase includes creating an 11-acre Community Park, converting 400,000 sq. ft. of concrete and blacktop parking into 17-acres of expanded green space, and a 1.3-acre Gateway Park for residents and visitors across the region, the United States, and the world to enjoy.
Julian Bowman is Senior Director of Marketing for Spectra Venue Management’s Fair Park in Dallas, Texas.