On August 10, 2022, the Dallas City Council voted unanimously to let Dallas voters decide whether to impose a 2% Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT) increase on visitors to fund a transformative expansion of the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Dallas (KBHCCD) and critical improvements to six iconic Fair Park venues. The 14-0 vote allowed the proposition, that could generate an estimated $1.5B in revenue without a tax increase on residents, to be put to Dallas voters. This would also be the largest investment the City of Dallas had ever made for a project and the largest capital investment ever in Fair Park, a 277-acre National Historic Landmark.
But some residents outside Fair Park, throughout South Dallas and parts of Downtown Dallas were reluctant to support Prop A mainly because of a history of inaction in renovating the landmark buildings in the park; the hotel tax was too high to attract tourists and visitors to Dallas; Prop A would hinder recovery from the pandemic; and voters would not find Prop A at the bottom of the ballot. The JBJ Management team were also faced with misinformation that voting for Prop A would increase residents’ taxes and convincing opponents that this would be a missed opportunity for residents to positively impact the City of Dallas and specifically downtown Dallas and South Dallas.
The Transforming Dallas Committee, a diverse group of leading Dallas organizations dedicated to helping Dallas compete in arts, entertainment, tourism, and economic growth on a global stage, selected JBJ Management as the Prime to lead the “Vote Yes For Prop A” campaign because of JBJ’s extensive experience in similar campaigns. Their work on Proposition 8, Proposition 1, Dallas City Council Re-Election Campaigns for District 9, Dallas City Council Run-off Campaign District 7 and 13, and Census 2020, more than prepared them to tackle all Prop A challenges.
The JBJ team created a strategic plan that involved public relations, extensive public outreach, and media. Tactics used to reach targeted voters included mailers (240K), paid digital ads (5), e-blasts (17), a State Fair of Texas booth, TV/Radio, earned media, social media influencers, campaign-specific website, newspaper ads, collateral (flyers, fact sheet in English/Spanish) and extensive public outreach at over 100 events. It was the public outreach campaign that included numerous small, educational seminars that addressed most opponents’ concerns.
Earned media coverage generated an estimated reach of over 42,236,493 in broadcast, radio, online and print over an 8-week period. This included a Media Round Table, Campaign Kick-off Press Conference, Advocacy Campaign Rally, weekly media, and pre/post-election day coverage.
On November 8, 2022, Proposition A passed with over 68% of Dallas voters in favor resulting in the largest financial investment ever made in the City of Dallas. Prop A will add a dedicated “tourist tax” to fund $1.5 billion in improvements and extensive renovations for Fair Park and the KBHCCD. Residents will reap the benefits of modernizing these venues but will pay no increase in property or sales taxes. This investment will create 50,000+ jobs, bring our beloved Fair Park into the 21st century, double the capacity and expected revenue of the KBHCCD, and ensure that we draw the very best A-list performers, events and conventions to these reimagined and improved venues.
“As an African American firm, what you guys have done is put $4 billion into the Dallas community,” said Ambassador Ron Kirk, a supporter of Prop A.
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