Dallas mayor pushes for second NFL team, says ‘serious opportunity’ for Chiefs to relocate

Dallas mayor pushes for second NFL team, says ‘serious opportunity’ for Chiefs to relocate


The Kansas City Chiefs have a “serious opportunity” to relocate to their original home in Dallas, the city’s mayor Eric Johnson told The Athletic.

Johnson is openly lobbying for a second NFL team near his home city. And he sees the Chiefs, the reigning Super Bowl champions, as a reasonable candidate.

Johnson, who has been in office since June 2019, pushed for the Chiefs to consider Dallas following a rejection by voters in Jackson County, Mo., of a ballot initiative for a tax that would have helped the Chiefs and the Kansas City Royals.

“Welcome home Dallas Texans,” Johnson said on X, alluding to the original name of the Chiefs franchise.

“The connections are so deep, the history is so rich,” Johnson told The Athletic. “We actually could put together the deals that would make sense for them to get them here.”

Before there was the Chiefs Kingdom or the franchise’s four Super Bowls, American businessman Lamar Hunt established an American Football League (AFL) franchise called the Dallas Texans. The Texans started playing in 1960, sharing the Cotton Bowl with the Cowboys. Hunt relocated the franchise to Kansas City in 1963 and renamed the team the Chiefs.

Six decades later, Lamar Hunt’s son Clark Hunt is the current owner of the Chiefs. Clark Hunt is a Dallas native and lives in the city’s affluent neighborhood of Highland Park with his wife, Tavia, and three children. He is also the chairman and CEO of the MLS franchise, FC Dallas.

Johnson said he speaks with Hunt but declined to say whether they have spoken about a move for the Chiefs. “I’m not really at liberty to say other than I have a good open line of communication with Clark Hunt,” Johnson said. “And that line of communication remains.”

Johnson argues that there’s a good economic argument for a team in Dallas, too. The Cowboys play about 20 miles away in nearby Arlington. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of Dallas-Fort Worth increased by approximately 23.1 percent since 2010. That is the most for any metropolitan area in the U.S. during that time frame, according to the census, which estimates that Dallas-Fort Worth could be the third-largest metro area in the country by the 2030s.

That would put Dallas right behind Los Angeles and New York — cities that each have two NFL franchises.

“When the NFL looks at the next round of expansion, they will not find an American city where there is not an NFL franchise currently that will be a more lucrative or faster-growing market to put a team,” Johnson said.

Johnson said he and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones had a conversation about a second Dallas team a couple of years ago when the city was pushing to host games for the men’s World Cup in 2026. Jones dismissed the idea of a second local NFL team.

“You can be rest assured that you would not have the NFL supporting another team because of the kind of value that the game and the NFL receives of having [the] Dallas Cowboys as one of its marquee teams,” Jones told the Dallas Morning News in 2022.

According to the most recent valuations from Forbes, the Cowboys are the most valuable NFL franchise at $9 billion. Johnson believes a second NFL team near Dallas could financially benefit Jones.

“You never say never because he’s a businessman and he’s in the business of making money,” Johnson said. “There is a strong argument to make that the Cowboys’ franchise value is not tied to the city it plays in or is connected with. It’s an international phenomenon at this point.

“It’s not about us. It’s about what’s in the best interests of these organizations we care about. I believe there’s an argument to be made to Jerry Jones that is not hurtful and potentially beneficial to the Jones family and the Dallas Cowboys to be the epicenter of football by having two NFL franchises, one in each conference, that compete here every single week and bring attention to this market.”

Since 2010, there have been three major relocations in the NFL: the Rams moving back to Los Angeles from St. Louis (2016), the Chargers also to L.A. from San Diego (2017) and the Raiders relocating to Las Vegas from Oakland (2020).

For a second NFL team to play in Dallas, there needs to be a stadium and player complex. Johnson said that Hensley Field, a 738-acre city-owned site that was once the Dallas Naval Air Station, could be a future home. He said the waterfront property has the space and nearby room for a mixed-use development that could become “an economically vibrant district of the city that brings new opportunities to its residents and workers.”

Johnson, who rebuffed a recall effort last month, has long pushed for another major sports team for his city.

Two years ago, Johnson put together an ad hoc committee to attract and retain teams of all types. He said the group meets regularly.

Kansas City’s taste for moving remains uncertain, even following the failed vote. The proposed sales tax was projected to generate about $2 billion, including funds to help renovate Arrowhead Stadium, a 52-year-old structure that will be one of the host sites for the 2026 FIFA World Cup. The agreement to keep the Chiefs at Arrowhead ends in 2031.

Developers across the state line in Kansas have proposed a shorter move in the past few years. In those discussions, developers have recommended multiple sites that are attractive for a state-of-the-art NFL stadium and training facility. One logical destination could be in Kansas City, Kan., near the Kansas Speedway and Children’s Mercy Park, the home venue of Sporting Kansas City.

“We’re disappointed,” Chiefs team president Mark Donovan said following the failed vote. “We feel we put forth the best offer for Jackson County. We were ready to extend the longstanding partnership the teams have enjoyed with this county.

“We will do, and look to do, what is in the best interest of our fans and our organization as we move forward.”

As for Johnson, he’s going to keep pushing his idea for Hensley Field for a second NFL franchise.

“There is a deal to be had here,” he said.

Required reading

(Photo of Mayor Eric Johnson: Shelby Tauber /Bloomberg via Getty Images)


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