Four years ago, a plot of land sat vacant at the northwest corner of Warren Parkway and the Dallas North Tollway, waiting to be claimed.

In 2013, the city made an announcement that would change not only the face of that 91-acre plot of land but also the city as a whole: the Dallas Cowboys were coming to Frisco in a public-private partnership between the NFL team, the city and Frisco ISD.

At the time, the city did not know that the Cowboys development—later dubbed The Star in Frisco—would be the beginning of what is now known as the $5 Billion Mile, a mile-long stretch of four developments along the DNT that total more than $5 billion in investment.

Today, that vacant plot of land is now unrecognizable with a 12,000-seat event center and practice facility, a corporate headquarters/office building, Omni Hotel and numerous other retail buildings under construction. Since its kickoff event Aug. 27, the Cowboys have announced new corporate tenants, retail tenants and the first few major events to be held at The Ford Center at The Star.

When the Cowboys began planning for The Star, the only certainty was moving the team’s headquarters and practice facility to Frisco, said Chad Estis, the Cowboys executive vice president for business operations. The rest was a blank canvas, he said.

“As we sat in a room and started talking about what we wanted that to be, one of the things that became clear to us was that we wanted The Star to also be a destination for our fans and really to provide our fans with a way to interact with our brand like they can’t in any other way,” Estis said.

This idea of giving fans a “behind the scenes” look at the Dallas Cowboys shaped the retail and entertainment component of The Star, Estis said.

Knowing the influence a brand like the Cowboys’ could have on a city, Frisco leaders said the opening of the first portion of The Star helps put Frisco on the map for developers, businesses, events and more.

Spurring development

Not long after The Star was announced, the other $5 Billion Mile developments followed suit. Wade Park announced its 175-acre development in early 2014 at the southeast corner of Lebanon Road and the DNT. The Gate, a 43-acre development just south of the Shops at Starwood, was announced next. Finally, Frisco station announced its 242-acre development that would wrap around The Star.

With the first portion of its development now open, The Star has helped facilitate development across the city, especially within the $5 Billion Mile, Frisco’s Development Services Director John Lettelleir said.

“It is a huge draw, and people are going to want to be adjacent to The Star,” he said. “You’re going to see developments saying, ‘We’re close to The Star or the Dallas Cowboys World Headquarters.’”

The Star’s success so far is also attracting other developers to the city, Frisco Mayor Maher Maso said.

The Star to kickstart more development, attract business to city“There’s at least one major developer right there that’s talking about doing a $3 billion additional development because of the synergy that’s been created,” he said. “I would say positively there’s no question that additional development is coming or has come, and some planned development has been expedited because of The Star.”

These developments are helping draw in more of what Frisco residents want, including more restaurants and recreation, Lettelleir said.

Business impact

Even before The Star’s kickoff event in 2016, The Frisco Economic Development Corp. has received numerous inquiries from businesses interested in moving to Frisco, FEDC President Jim Gandy said.

“Businesses call up and ask for information about locating their company, and it’s not unusual for them to say, ‘We want to be a part of the $5 Billion Mile,’” Gandy said.

The added office space at The Star is creating potential jobs for Frisco’s educated workforce, Maso said.

In 2016, Bank of America, FM Global, McCathern PLLC and PlainsCapital Bank committed to space within the nearly 400,000 square feet of Class A office space at The Star.

Another 22 retail tenants—mostly restaurants—have also committed to commercial retail space, and more are expected to be announced soon, said Charlotte Jones Anderson, Cowboys executive vice president and chief brand officer.

With The Star’s proximity to Stonebriar Centre’s shopping district, Estis said the Cowboys wanted the development to be more of an entertainment district, which is why so many restaurants have leased space.

Because of the prestige of the Cowboys brand, The Star has contributed to increasing real estate costs, which may lead to some businesses being unable to afford moving to or staying in Frisco, Gandy said.

“We’re always wanting to do everything that we can to retain the businesses that are here and help them to stay and grow and be as successful as possible,” Gandy said. “Unfortunately, that doesn’t work in every case because every business has its own primary needs, and they have to determine for themselves where’s the best place where they can be most profitable.”

The Star to kickstart more development, attract business to cityTourism Magnent

In the few months that The Ford Center has been open, the multiuse facility has already drawn a few events. In December, the center hosted a high school football state championship series. In February, the center will host the 2017 Indoor Track & Field Classic and a boxing match between Miguel Cotto and James Kirkland.

The Omni Hotel and the restaurants and retail stores within a walkable environment will also be a draw to tourists, said Marla Roe, Frisco Convention & Visitors Bureau executive director.

“I think [a walkable environment is] one thing that’s been lacking a little bit in Frisco,” she said. “Between that and what Frisco Station has, that’s all going to start creating kind of that atmosphere that you see at Shops at Legacy [in Plano], which is so popular.”

At 557,881 square feet, The Ford Center has the largest indoor event space in Frisco. The Omni Hotel being built next to the center will have a 43,000-square-foot conference center. The two will be conjoined by a walkway, creating a combined event space of more than 600,000 square feet. This large amount of space could have the potential to draw events to the city that have not previously been hosted here, Roe said.

The hope with drawing big events to The Ford Center is that first-time visitors to Frisco would return and thereby generate more sales tax revenue, Roe said.

An economic impact study released in 2013 showed that the development is projected to generate $1.26 billion in tax revenue in a 30-year period, including $187 million for the city of Frisco and nearly $295 million for the school district.

“Originally when we made the deal, we thought it would have a significant impact, and we were wrong; it’s a much more significant impact,” Maso said. “It has accomplished what we thought it would, but on a much larger scale.”

This story is one update from The January Issue. View the full list of 10 things to look for in 2017 here.