Is Dallas the Best Convention City in the Country?

Photo by Scott Womack

I can answer that question. The answer is the following: no. No, it is not. But we are one of 20 cities in the running in a readers’ poll being conducted by USA Today. I can also tell you that Indianapolis, which currently has the most votes, is not the best convention city in the country. I say this with confidence, even though I have never been to Indianapolis. Here’s why USA Today says Dallas deserves consideration:

With centrally-located DFW and Love Field both serving Dallas convention-goers, it couldn’t be easier to reach. Once you arrive, it’s affordable to get to the the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center, which is more than capable of handling large events. Some attractions and nightlife options are nearby, while others — like House of Blues — are a mere cab ride away. Hotels and restaurants do, for the most part, require travel, but Dallas offers lots of great things to do after hours . . . including shopping at Neiman-Marcus’ flagship store, or eating Texas beef.

I have so many problems with that description, not the least of which are the superfluous hyphens in “centrally-located” and “Neiman-Marcus,” and the errant “n” in “Hutchinson.” But the worst part is the overall sales job. Who cares about affordability? If you’re headed to a convention, the company is paying! The House of Blues? That’s our selling point? And beef? Ugh. We might as well be Indianapolis.


  • Richard Hertz

    Not only are not the best convention city, we have a Convention and Visitors Bureau leader who cannot coordinate major bids with local and regional leaders. And he submits them late. Maybe he found out late? Oh, wait…

  • Sampson

    Pretty strong saying Indy is not the best convention city without being there. Indy’s convention center is right downtown and unlike Dallas, Indy has a nice downtown that people actually go to in the evenings and everything is in walking distance (hotels, restaurants, Pacers, Colts). Indy’s downtown used to be similar to Dallas, but Indy definitely has gotten it right. About TX beef…two words St. Elmo’s (one of the best steakhouses in the country and the best shrimp cocktail in the country). I would also be willing to bet that Indy will be host to another Super Bowl before Dallas.

  • Tim Rogers

    Thank you. It felt strong to me, too.

  • Darren

    Being from Indy, I agree wholeheartedly. 10 minutes from airport to downtown (with traffic). Many hotels & restaurants within a 5 block radius of the CC. Football stadium, basketball arena, NCAA headquarters and museum all downtown.

    Downtown Dallas is no where near Downtown Indianapolis in terms of convention superiority.

    And I believe there are conventions where your employer is not footing the bill.

  • Wes Mantooth

    I love it when Tim tolls a city with a better football team. And Jim Irsay may be even crazier than Jerry.

  • Wylie H Dallas

    If we spent another couple hundred million on convention center renovations, and rerouted the new DART rail line downtown so that it would be a 100 feet closer to the Omni (this was Leppert’s suggestion, it would only add about $400 million to the route’s cost, and push the line a couple of blocks further away from downtown)…. THEN we might have a shot at being #1 and ascending into world-classery.

  • WWK

    If you were for Tom Leppert, then you were against the City of Dallas.

  • tested

    It is easy for us to find the faults with Dallas… but most of the people I meet who come here for conventions are very impressed with our city. I don’t think I’d rank us as #1 but I’m not sure I would put us below Indy either. (And I have been there)

  • Sumora

    It’s easy to be impressed by nice restaurants and nightlife when you are here for three days.

    Many citizens of Dallas – the people who live here and pay taxes – are disappointed that our regional business leaders and politicians treat Dallas like their own personal piggy bank. That’s why people are so outspoken with the faults.

    Get out of your bubble, pal.

  • Roge

    I live in Indy. It’s not even close to the being the best convention city in the middle of the country (Nashville is) let alone in the whole USA. This was bought by the city’s well-oiled convention apparatus. Let’s be honest. Nobody really wants to come to Indianapolis except for one weekend in May. Much has been written about downtown Indy, but it is mediocre at best. Yes, we have St. Elmo’s but every convention city has a similar steakhouse. There’s nothing unique about Indy. There’s nothing special. They stuffed the ballot box on a survey that nobody else cared about. Simple as that.