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A New Theory Emerges About City Hall’s Mysterious Project X: The Dallas Texans?

Is a late night social media post by Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson about the Kansas City Chiefs a clue about the secret sports-related Project X?
Kansas City Chiefs owner Clark Hunt and wife Tavia Hunt, who live in the Park Cities, celebrate the Chiefs winning Super Bowl LVIII. Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, we pointed to a mysterious item on a Dallas City Council committee agenda that at the time seemed to potentially involve the Dallas Mavericks. But now we have a new theory.

At the time, a joint meeting of the Dallas City Council’s Ad Hoc Committee on Professional Sports Recruitment and Retention and the Council Economic Development Committee included an agenda item slated for closed session, where the two committees met privately with attorneys. Dubbed “Project X,” there were just a few vague clues: “Discuss or deliberate the commercial or financial information that the city has received from a business prospect (“Project X”) that the city seeks to have locate, stay or expand in or near the city and with which the city is conducting economic development negotiations; and deliberate the offer of a financial or other incentive to such business prospect.”

The same day the committees met, we floated the theory that Project X was potentially about the city making plans to keep the Dallas Mavericks away from the suburbs. Now that the team has new majority owners and a deal with the American Airlines Center that ends in 2031, it would make sense that the city would want to begin negotiations sooner than later.

But a new team has entered the arena, thanks to a late evening tweet from Mayor Eric Johnson.

For those whose interest in the Kansas City Chiefs starts and ends with the Super Bowl and/or Taylor Swift’s boyfriend, here’s why the mayor’s suggestion that the Chiefs come to Dallas isn’t actually outside the realm of possibility. (Although, to be clear, we’re not saying Project X is Chiefs related, either.)

First, there’s history. Before they were the Chiefs, they were the Dallas Texans, founded in 1959 by Dallas businessman Lamar Hunt as a charter member of the AFL. Four years later they moved to Kansas City and became the Chiefs. The team is still owned by the Hunt family, with Park Cities resident Clark Hunt serving as chairman and CEO.

There’s also a tiny matter of a gauntlet being thrown in Kansas City. Last night, Jackson County, Missouri, voters rejected a sales tax that would pay (in part) to renovate Arrowhead Stadium—by a lot. The team, despite its shiny new Super Bowl win and the ongoing promise of the presence of Taylor Swift for seasons to come (thinking nothing but positive thoughts, Swifties), got kicked in the jeans when it tried to ask its taxpayers to chip in on a new stadium.

Chiefs team president Mark Donovan has threatened to move the team if the tax didn’t pass. That’s bad for Kansas City, but probably makes a mayor who announced he wanted to bring an NFL team to Dallas ever so slightly giddy.

After the vote, Donovan issued a statement that still a little bit sounds like he’s in a fight with Kansas City but also maybe ready to make good on the threat.

“We were ready to extend the longstanding partnership that the teams have enjoyed with this county,” he said. “This is important. . . . We will do and look to do what is in the best interest of our fans and our organization as we move forward.”

And lastly, as we pointed out last week, there was previously a football-related Project X in Dallas. (Tim Rogers provides more on that here.) We wrote: “…in our D Magazine office library, we have a copy of 2004 DVD titled ‘Project X.’ It contains computer-generated imagery produced by Halff Associates on behalf of the Dallas Cowboys. It shows a stadium complex built near downtown Dallas on the banks of the Trinity River. Is this Project X a sly callback  to that Project X?”

It may not be on the nose, but it is proboscis-adjacent.

Of course, should a team move to Dallas, there would be the issue of where to place a stadium. Last May, Johnson suggested putting one in southern Dallas.

“We need an AFC team that plays in Southern Dallas,” he said. “It would never want for a fan base or attendance or support from the city of Dallas.”

At the time he suggested the Jaguars or the Chargers. But the Chiefs are also in the AFC, and if Kansas City won’t give them what they want, it sounds an awful lot like the Mayor of Dallas would try.

Listen, maybe this isn’t Project X. After all, it would mean that City Hall has been keeping a sharp eye on a random April election in Missouri while also hammering out a $1.25 billion bond proposal, hunting for a new city manager, and another good half dozen important things. Maybe Project X is Mavs related and this is just a bonus X. 

But who said we can’t have some fun with speculating?


Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson

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Bethany Erickson is the senior digital editor for D Magazine. She's written about real estate, education policy, the stock market, and crime throughout her career, and sometimes all at the same time. She hates lima beans and 5 a.m. and takes SAT practice tests for fun.

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