Fort Worth & Metroplex - A Successful Meetings Destination

SUCCESSFUL MEETINGS August 2006 Fort Worth and Metroplex neighbors Arlington, Irving, and Grapevine represent the best of the West: They are true to their roots (right down to a famously regional cuisine that's both haute and hearty), Hospitable to visitors, and embracing of culture. This year, while hotel flags and attractions do a do-si-do throughout the area, Fort Worth breaks ground on a convention center hotel, and Irving gets closer to having a convention center of its own.

Convention Facilities: Fort Worth Convention Center, 253,226 sf of exhibit space, 42 meeting rooms, largest holds 2,816 theater-style; Will Rogers Memorial Center, 100,000 sf of exhibit space; 2,856-seat auditorium; 5,695-seat coliseum.
Arlington Convention Center, 78,600 sf of exhibit space; 20 meeting rooms.
Grapevine Convention Center, 23,500 sf of exhibit space; 10 meeting rooms.
For More Info: Fort Worth CVB
Arlington CVB
Irving CVB
Grapevine CVB
For more listings, visit Facility Quick Search at

At presstime, the battle over the Wright Amendment-the decades-old contentious law that restricts passenger flight into Dallas-Love Field in favor of DFW Int'l-is being played out in the U.S. Congress. A compromise, forged in June for American Airlines and Southwest Airlines (for which DFW and Love, respectively, are hubs) by the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth, granted concessions that were satisfactory to both airlines; however, since the concessions applied only to DFW and Love, representatives from surrounding areas have opposed the proposed compromise, claiming it poses an unfair restriction on their airports and others, since elsewhere, the federal law limitations on commercial passenger service from Love Field would still apply within a nine-state region. Stay tuned.
* Last year, DFW debuted its $2.7-million international D terminal, with an adjacent 298-room Grand Hyatt DFW and the renovated 811-room Hyatt Regency DFW nearby.


FORT WORTH The headquarters hotel for the Fort Worth Convention Center-a $115-million, 608-room Omni-is expected to break ground in the fourth quarter of this year. The plan calls for the property to feature 48,000 sf of meeting space, two restaurants, and two ballrooms, as well as 97 condos that will be built atop the hotel.
* Located adjacent to the convention center, the former Radisson Plaza Fort Worth completed a $10.5-million renovation in Apr to become the 294-room Hilton Fort Worth. Enhancements include a photography display honoring President John F. Kennedy, who spent his last night at the hotel in 1963, and a JFK Suite.
* Two former Holiday Inns were reflagged the Radisson Hotel Fort Worth North and South in Apr, following a $12-million renovation that refreshed guest rooms, facades, and landscaping. Each tower has 247 guest rooms, a restaurant and bar, and more than 12,000 sf of conference space.
* A 156-room Embassy Suites is expected to open its doors in late this year on the site of a former hotel; it will feature 6,000 sf of event function space and a sixth-floor atrium area.
* The former Plaza Hotel Fort Worth is expected to reopen in summer 2007 as the 434-room Sheraton Hotel and Spa, following a $46-million renovation.
* The former 1899 Santa Fe Train Depot recently underwent a $2-million transformation to become the Ashton Depot, a 10,000-sf events hall with a 3,500-sf outdoor patio.

ARLINGTON Ground has been broken for the new Dallas Cowboys stadium, to be set in Glorypark, a future $600-million, a state-of-the-art shopping and dining destination.
* The 178-room La Quinta Inn and Suites Arlington North has reopened, featuring more than 3,000 sf of meeting space.

IRVING The Irving CVB is in Phase II of a feasibility study for a convention center with a projected 250,000 sf of exhibit space, 45,000 sf of ballroom space, 60,000 sf of breakout space, and 320,000 sf of support space.
* The 357-room Four Seasons Resort and Club at Las Colinas has completed the $15-million expansion it began in Dec 2005, adding a one-acre lake to the golf course and 40 villa guest rooms (including one suite with a meeting room for 12 attendees, facing a lawn for events), as well as a refurbishment to its 30,000-sf conference center.
* Following a $25-million renovation, the former Harvey DFW was reflagged the 506-room Westin Dallas Fort Worth Airport, featuring 37,000 sf of meeting space.
* The 421-room Omni Mandalay Hotel at Las Colinas completed a $3-million renovation.
* The 303-room Sheraton Grand DFW completed an $8-million renovation that added a sports bar.
* The 168-room Wyndham Hotel Las Colinas completed a $3.5-million renovation; new enhancements are expected for meeting and public space.

GRAPEVINE In Jun, ground was broken on a 400-suite Great Wolf Lodge Resort that will include an 80,000-sf indoor entertainment area featuring a year-round water park, arcade, Aveda Concept Spa, and fitness room.
Cultural Update FORT WORTH The 15,500-sf Texas Civil War Museum opened with one of the largest private collections of artifacts in the U.S. and the largest collection west of the Mississippi River.
* The Sid Richardson Collection of Western Art, which boasts more than 60 paintings by premier Western artists Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell, is expected to add 1,800 sf when it reopens this year.

ARLINGTON This spring, University of Texas at Arlington debuted its new 165-seat Planetarium, featuring a 60-foot dome and the Digistar 3 system. Groups can book special events or meetings for up to 150 people standing or 100 seated.

Doug Harman says that he is finally hanging up his spurs as president and CEO of the Fort Worth CVB this year. It's an amazing pronouncement, for not only does it conclude a 17-year chapter of service, it means-if you know Doug's ever-growing collection of Western memorabilia-he will be hanging up a lot of spurs.
In his time with the CVB, Harman has shepherded the Fort Worth Convention Center from its transfer from the county to its present-day, state-of-the-art expansion; a cowboy belt buckle design from Harman's collection is set in the floor.

Leaving as the center's headquarters hotel is about to break ground, Harman reminisces in his characteristically candid fashion. "Every city offers a challenge to its CVB: to understand the psyche of and work with the community in a way that is both effective and doesn't get you fired." To illustrate the appropriateness of Fort Worth's "Cowboys and Culture" heritage, Harman says, "We've got these great museums-the Kimball, the Carter, the Modern, the Cowgirl, the Science and History. And right across the street from the Kimball, you have this great big parking area for the Will Rogers Memorial Center, with trailers that haul horses and cattle around for the Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show. So you've got the authentic aroma of the West across the street from the authentic aroma of classic oil paintings. It's sometimes a little hard to explain, but ultimately it makes the destination more interesting."

Things have certainly improved since 2000, when a tornado tore through the city and destroyed the Bank One building. It is now a "beautiful" 300-condo tower, but Harman remembers when it was covered with plywood: "For that period, it symbolized a downtown that was on shaky ground. Today, it symbolizes a downtown that is so vibrant that even a tornado couldn't hold it back.
"One day I was sitting here in the office, and a man and a woman came in and said that they had read that Fort Worth had the largest plywood building in the world. And I had to disappoint them and tell them that it was no longer the case."-TH

Groups Should Consider this recommendation from Successful Meetings' Home Team* experts. The top choice is the 286-room Doral Tesoro Resort and Convention Center.

*Home Team contributors who informed this section include Beth Cooper-Zobott. Contact them at [email protected]

The restaurants below have group facilities and were selected from the Zagat Survey of Fort Worth & Metroplex. The order was determined by Zagat's food and service ratings of 20 and above and a price of up to $50 per person (without alcohol):
Name, Type of Food, Location
Saint-Emilion, French, Fort Worth
Bonnell's, Southwestern, Fort Worth
Del Frisco's Double Eagle, Steakhouse, Fort Worth
Lonesome Dove, Southwestern, Fort Worth
The Pegasus, Eclectic, Fort Worth
Cacharel, French, Arlington
Silver Fox, Steakhouse, Fort Worth
Boi Na Braza, Brazilian, Grapevine
Jasper's, American, Plano
Bistro Louise, American, Fort Worth
For more information on these and other restaurants in the Fort Worth and Metroplex, please click on

Our subscribers gave Pinnacle Awards to the following:
Fort Worth CVB
Irving CVB
Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center
Hilton DFW Lakes Executive Conference Center
For more listings, visit Facility Quick Search at