May has turned into a party month in Fort Worth, and the whole world is on the invite list.
Along with being hosts to “Good Morning America” in the Stockyards, there’s been the Professional Bull Riders World Finals, a Texas Motor Speedway race weekend and – soon to follow – the Charles Scwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club. And, though it was a one-time event, the month also saw Paul McCartney return to Fort Worth for his first concert in the city since 1976. The same week, Kendrick Lamar released a video filmed partially in Fort Worth’s Water Gardens.
The Texas Motor Speedway race and Colonial tournament have a history in the city, but the PBR World Finals is new and Visit Fort Worth expects the bull riders to saddle up in the city for years to come.
“I think the PBR is going to be one of those monumental deals for the city that we look back on in a couple of decades and say, ‘Wow, look what’s happened because of that partnership,’” said Jason Sands, executive director of the Fort Worth Sports Commission.
Sands said they won’t tally up the total economic impact until after the event, but he estimates – based on what Las Vegas saw in previous years – about $30 million over the 10 days of the event.
“We anticipate over 70,000 people to come here over the course of those 10 days, so that’s probably over 20,000 hotel rooms,” he said.
The PBR looks to be a long-term relationship for the city, Sands said.
“They told us from our first initial meeting that they just love the Fort Worth authentic Western heritage and history that our city just exudes,” he said. “It really fits with the PBR’s brand and what their mission is.”
While this year may bring plenty of visitors and economic impact, Sands believes this is just the start.
“The vision is to grow it bigger and bigger each year,” he said. “Even now, they’re activating every square inch of the Stockyards. Will Rogers they’re utilizing as well. So they’re really, throughout the entire city, leveraging what makes Fort Worth great to provide a great experience for their fans.”
For the bar and restaurant industry in the area, it’s a welcome influx of business after two years of struggle during the pandemic.
“It’s great for us, but really, the Stockyards have been busy since the Hotel Drover opened,” said Pam Minick of Billy Bob’s Texas. “This just adds to the number of visitors coming to the Stockyards because I don’t think it’s ever been busier.”
On Wednesday, May 18, the Stockyards played host to ABC’s “Good Morning America,” the network’s morning show, which set up in front of the Livestock Exchange Building. Bill Fairley of Fairley Wealth Management was part of the crowd when the program showed host Amy Robach, who was live in the Stockyards.
“I heard about it through Rotary,” Fairley said. “A bunch of us went down there. It was cool and it was fun. We just had to be there early.”
The Texas Motor Speedway event is expected to bring a big crowd, particularly with an appearance by country superstar Blake Shelton who will be in concert before Sunday’s All-Star Race.
Shortly after the cowboy hats and gimme caps have left, Fort Worth will begin to see more golf shirts appear when the Charles Scwab Challenge tees off at Colonial Country Club on May 23.
Michael Tothe, tournament director at Colonial Country Club, said he is relieved that this year there are no attendance limitations after two years of restrictions due to the pandemic.
“The field’s spectacular,” he said. “We’ve got six of the top 10 in the world playing us, which is incredible.”
Joining defending champion Jason Kokrak will be top-ranked players such as Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Viktor Hovland, Xander Schauffele and Tony Finau.
The winner of the Charles Schwab Challenge will receive the Leonard Trophy and Scottish royal tartan plaid jacket and prize money of $1.5 million, part of a record $8.4 million purse.
The winner will also drive away with the champion’s prize, this year: a 1979 Schwab Firebird. The refurbished Firebird from 1979 highlights an important year in Schwab’s history when Charles Schwab made a significant investment in computing technology, a development that set the firm apart in the financial services industry.
Along with the 1979 Schwab Firebird, country music star Jake Owen is paying homage to the movie that made the Firebird famous, “Smokey and the Bandit” by recording a new version of “Eastbound and Down,” the theme song from the film originally recorded by the late-Jerry Reed. Owen also recorded a video for the song featuring the Schwab Firebird.
The club is focusing on providing a top-rate fan experience as it expects plenty of first-time attendees, Tothe said.
“We’re now the 12th-largest city in the country, so we’re going to have a lot of new visitors and we want to show them what a great tournament we have here,” he said.
After next year’s tournament, the course will close down for a renovation by golf course architect Gil Hanse. The project will address every aspect of the golf course infrastructure, including a state-of-the-art irrigation system, new bunkers, tees, and green complexes, said Tothe.
“It’s a pretty robust program and a very aggressive timeline, but it needs to be because we’ve got to host the event in 2024,” he said.
Former Mayor Betsy Price said May has always been good for the city economically with the Colonial tournament.
“It has always been a big boost to the economy, but to now have PBR and then the race, that just triples the impact,” she said.
Bob Francis is business editor for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.