The city of Frisco and Frisco ISD announced Aug. 11 they are parting ways on a plan to build a joint performing arts center in conjunction with Hall Group and the redevelopment efforts at its office park.

The announcement states that FISD will proceed with plans to build a visual and performing arts center for district use on school property with $43 million approved by voters in 2018.

The city will pursue options for a separate performing arts center in partnership with Hall Group that is described as “a world-class, community-centric and commercially viable” facility, the announcement stated.

This is the latest in a series of efforts that began more than two decades ago to build a large-scale arts hall for the Frisco community. An initial plan called for Frisco partnering with the cities of Allen and Plano on a Collin County arts hall. But that deal fell apart after a majority of Frisco voters decided in May 2011 to withdraw Frisco’s share of bond money.

A decade later, Frisco ISD, the city and Hall Group signed an agreement to build a $100 million performing arts center and parking garage within Hall Park. The plan was to combine the district’s bond funds with $14 million from the city, $10 million from Hall Group founder Craig Hall and private funds for a facility of no more than 1,500 seats. Hall also agreed to donate the land for the project.

Some local arts supporters advocated for a larger facility to attract touring Broadway shows and other commercial acts. A fundraising campaign launched in August 2021 set out to raise $100 million more for the project. An online petition about the efforts to build a new performing arts center sought to have at least 1,750-2,000 seats.

But city and school officials learned in May that costs in materials, labor and equipment had increased more than 50% since the June 2021 agreement.

Representatives with Corgan, which was chosen as the project architect, stated that a 1,250-seat venue would carry a price tag of between $135.7 million-$151.1 million.

A 1,500-seat venue would cost between $146.1 million-$158.2 million, and a 1,750-seat venue could cost as much as $181.1 million, according to Corgan estimates.

The Aug. 11 announcement states that due to “each partner’s unique priorities, responsibility to its stakeholders and cost concerns,” the joint effort on a performing arts center would not proceed.

“We are thankful for the support and vision from the city of Frisco and Craig Hall throughout this partnership exploration,” FISD school board President René Archambault said in the news release. “We share the same goal of an expanded and thriving arts community in Frisco, and we look forward to helping shape that future through increased opportunities for young people in the fine arts. The community’s investment in arts education will ripple throughout our community for generations.”

Frisco Mayor Jeff Cheney stated that the process to get to this point was thorough.

“We learned so much about the state of ‘the arts’ in our community,” he said in the release. “From the needs of our various arts and community groups to the dream of bringing Broadway to Frisco, the demand for arts has never been higher. As a result, I’m more confident than ever Frisco can support a premier performing arts facility benefiting the entire region. While this partnership project is changing direction, the district remains the city’s most valued partner.”

Hall said in the release that Hall Group remained committed to increasing Frisco’s access to the arts.

“Frisco has had an impressive track record of successful public-private partnerships, and while this particular partnership has changed course, we are still actively supporting the city of Frisco’s development of a programmed community park that will include many exciting art elements, and we look forward to having more opportunities to work with these parties again in the future.” he said in the release.

Frisco ISD stated that it will proceed with its original plan to build a facility that will serve not only performing arts with an auditorium but also the visual arts with gallery space. The facility will use the $43 million in bond money and be built on land the district already owns.

Meghan Cone, assistant director of communications for FISD, said a site has not yet been chosen. Design work that is expected to begin this fall will help determine the best location, she said.

According to FISD, its facility will be for students at all grade levels who are spread across the district’s 75 campuses. Parameters include:

  • a maximum of 1,250 seats, which is more than double the 600-seat auditoriums the district already has;

  • use of the facility more than 160 days each year with potential for outside groups to rent space not used by the district; and

  • plans to host future UIL and other competitive events to free up resources at individual campuses.

Frisco and Frisco ISD have been known for years for their public-private partnerships that resulted in multimillion-dollar developments affiliated with sports groups. Those include Riders Field (Frisco RoughRiders), Toyota Stadium (FC Dallas), Comerica Center (Dallas Stars), The Ford Center at The Star (Dallas Cowboys) and most recently, the PGA of America.