Discussions on whether Fort Worth will build a soccer stadium on the far north side of the city will continue, city leaders voted this week.
At a city council meeting Tuesday, the nine members unanimously approved a resolution to continue looking into whether a stadium could be built. However, there was an emphasis on the need for a youth sports complex.
Mitch Whitten with Visit Fort Worth, which represents the $2.5 billion tourism industry in Fort Worth and its 28,000 employees, said it has been needed for years.
“In 2019, a report commissioned by Visit Fort Worth with support from the Sports Authority found we simply do not have any tournament level fields today,” Whitten explained. “Now is the time. If our region is selected to host the 2026 World Cup, the ranks of soccer players in the international spotlight will be on us even more.”
According to Jason Sands, executive director of the Fort Worth Sports Commission, the 2019 report also found a youth sports complex could potentially drive $16 million annually to Fort Worth.
“Right now, a lot of the kids are having to travel to Dallas and Frisco and Plano to participate in leagues and tournaments on weekends and so on. So, we have so many dollars of our Fort Worth residents that are going and being spent elsewhere in the Metroplex,” Sands said.
“There’s also a quality of life component and investment there. As we’re trying to attract new businesses to bring their headquarters here, it’s going to be helpful to say, ‘There’s going to be a beautiful tournament-quality facility five minutes down the road’ versus ‘If you want to play any sports, you got to drive to Dallas to do that.’”
District 9 Councilwoman Elizabeth Beck said the discussion on the potential stadium moving forward had to be in tandem with the youth sports complex.
“We don’t do one without the other. We’re not going to have the stadium without investing in the sports tourism,” Beck said. “It is important we be bold but not be reckless, and I have some concerns on whether or not financially this project is bold or it’s reckless for the city of Fort Worth. We can get to a place where it’s bold but not reckless with your tax dollars.”
District 4 Councilman Cary Moon said the area that has been eyed for the potential stadium seating between 10,000 and 12,000 people is by Interstate 35W and Basswood Avenue.
“For the 2026 World Cup, Fort Worth wants the ability to host an international team. This stadium would help meet that goal,” Moon said. “It’s not just about the 2026 World Cup. It can be NCAA, UIL Division soccer games, in addition to women’s professional and men’s professional teams.”
Moon said the approved resolution Tuesday means the city council will continue looking into what this project could cost and look like in the future.
Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker said the council was committed to bringing a youth sports complex to the city.
“For my friends with Visit Fort Worth here and for Youth Soccer, we will build a youth sports complex in Fort Worth,” Parker said.