How the Deal was Made: Frisco’s Performing Arts Center

Frisco is well known for its creative public-private partnerships such as Toyota Stadium, The Star, The PGA of America, to name a few and many have mentioned that Frisco could write an instruction manual on this topic!

Titled “How the Deal was Made”, the Frisco Chamber of Commerce hosted a sold-out luncheon and panel discussion on Tuesday, August 24, 2021, at The Westin Stonebriar Conference Center to discuss Frisco’s newest public-private partnership, the Performing Arts Center (PAC) which is a partnership between Frisco ISD, the City of Frisco, and HALL Group. Tony Felker, President/CEO of the Frisco Chamber of Commerce asked questions of the panelists to learn the details of how this deal came together. Dr. Mike Waldrip, Superintendent of Frisco ISD; Mayor Jeff Cheney, City of Frisco; and Donald Braun, President of the HALL Group served as panelists.

This project, which will be located at HALL Park (north of  Hwy 121 and west of the DNT) includes a Performing Arts Center ($67M), an accompanying parking garage ($33M), and a park ($30M) that will be slightly larger than Dallas’ Clyde Warren Park.

The quest for a Performing Arts Center in Frisco has been evolving for many years, literally decades.

“This has been a hot topic in Frisco, for now, decades,” Cheney said during the discussion. “Many people know that the City of Frisco at one point entered into a partnership with a couple of other cities, the Arts of Collin County, bonds were passed with that and it quickly became one of the most controversial projects in Frisco’s history.” Cheney explained that the problem was not that people didn’t want a performing arts center, it was rather they wanted the performing arts center to be located in Frisco. After a very close election, the voters decided to revoke the bonds and to have Frisco leave the Arts of Collin County collaboration.

Cheney was serving on Frisco City Council at this time and recalls saying “One day the people that want arts in the community will look back and say ‘that was the right thing to happen’ because we will be celebrating the day that we are building a PAC in Frisco.”

What was it over the last several months that got this deal back on the drawing table and actively being pursued?

Dr. Mike Waldrip expressed it was the 2018 bond initiative. “One of the things that was coming out of our fine arts department during that bond initiative was that we needed just a little bit bigger space for some of our events.”  The proposal was then made to the bond committee to include a separate facility for larger events that would not fit in a high school auditorium. It was then that the bond committee and the FISD Board of Trustees agreed that if the bond were to pass, the school district would pursue a private partnership.

The rest is history, one could say!

“It all started with a meeting with Mr. Hall, and Don (Braun) and some others,” Waldrip said. “That got the ball rolling.” Waldrip credits former councilman Bob Allen for making the connection for that first meeting.

In reviewing notes for the panel discussion, Don Braun came across a note with the date and time of that first meeting…August 2, 2018, in the afternoon to be exact. “The meeting got set the morning of August 2, 2018. Bob Allen and Todd Fouche called and asked if they could meet with Craig Hall and I that afternoon. This was literally one of the best meetings that I’ve ever been a part of,” Braun shared. 

“All of the cards were on the table.” Braun went on to say that just six days later, there was a framework drafted up and passed around the City of Frisco and the school district. While the deal was complicated and that framework not final, it was pretty close to the deal now in place.

Braun also recalled a catalyst to this deal which took place at Mayor Cheney’s first Frisco Chamber State of the City Luncheon address where Cheney mentioned one of his top priorities was a performing arts center. “That said a tremendous amount to us relative to [Mayor Cheney’s] commitment to a performing arts center and a desire to see this happen.”

How is this deal different from other P3’s?

Cheney referenced this particular deal as the “People’s Project” since this P3 was funded differently than the others. This was one that went out to the voters via Frisco ISD and City of Frisco bond initiatives. “This was actually a public vote for the ISD bonds and we had a public vote for city bonds as well to build a PAC for community use. We have a huge demand for that,” noted Cheney. ”Our local arts groups are leaving Frisco because we don’t have adequate space for these events.” Cheney also announced a local initiative to raise an additional $100M for enhancements to the project. Visit heartsproject.org to learn more.

Cheney said that another way this deal is different from other P3s is that the City of Frisco is usually the driver of these partnerships. In this case, it’s Frisco ISD, who will have use of the main facility for 150 to 170 days per year, leaving the remainder for community use.

Stay Tuned!

If you want to know more about the Performing Arts Center and the panel discussion, the Frisco Chamber of Commerce will be posting the video of the panel discussion on our event page in the near future. Stay tuned!

Thank You to Our Sponsors

Events like these are made possible by our sponsors:

Presenting Sponsor – Coserv

Innovator Sponsor – Garfield Public Private

Visionary Sponsors –

AECOM Hunt

Audiosha

Texas Health Hospital Frisco

Vanir

Table Sponsors – BGE, Baylor Scott & White – Centennial, Cheney Group, City of Frisco, CobbFendley, HALL Park, First United Bank, Frisco Association for the Arts, Frisco Economic Development Corporation, North Dallas Bank & Trust, Parkhill, PlainsCapital, RBFCU, The Projects Group, and Whitley Penn. Watch sponsor video here.

Photo Tracee Elrod

Photos courtesy Suad Bejtovic.

Matthew Reiter, Board Chair led the convocation and pledge.

Tracee Elrod, thanking attendees on behalf of CoServ.

Related Articles:

Community Impact Newspaper

‘This is it’: Frisco leaders unveil HEARTS Project, $100M campaign for performing arts center

Dallas Morning News

Frisco leaders seek additional $100M for new arts center, on top of millions already invested

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