The tip of the iceberg is $300 million. That’s the figure that can be made a reality from public donors for Fair Park renovations as part of the Brimer Bill, which Dallas citizens will put to a vote in November. Heading up the redesign efforts for renovations on the park, which include the Cotton Bowl, Coliseum, bandshell, and seven exhibition buildings, is heralded sports stadium architect and Oak Cliff native Bryan Trubey of Overland Partners.
Should the ballot item be approved by Dallas voters in November, the renovation would mark the largest capital improvement project ever for Fair Park. Over a recent lunch, Trubey and I discussed the project, the potential Fair Park boasts, and why this project holds so much weight:
It’s a sunny summer day as we settle into a table at Mi Cocina overlooking Klyde Warren Park. Trubey opts for the beef enchiladas, and I stick with the reliable brisket tacos—but not before we enjoy some guacamole. “Are you really from Texas if you don’t enjoy guac?” Trubey asks.
The soft-spoken exec tells me that Fair Park is unlike any venue not only in Texas, not only in the U.S., but on the planet. “The collection of architecture, the storied venues, the entire environment: there isn’t another place in the world—not another principal city in America, not in Europe, not in the larger cities in China—like the 277 acres of Fair Park,” he says. “This once-in-a-lifetime project will unlock a lot of magic for Dallas.”
Trubey showed an early interest in architecture. As a first grader, he turned words he read from architecture books into sketches. His first job in the industry came at the ripe age of 15 at Arlington-based firm Harry J. Allison Architectural Firm—a company he’d work at for 10 years. He then moved on to Dallas-based giant HKS in 1992. It was there that his legacy launched.
He led the design teams for Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Indianapolis Colts. He also led design on U.S. Bank Stadium, the Minnesota Vikings’ world-class home field. And in his own backyard, Trubey worked with the Dallas Cowboys to design AT&T Stadium and the Texas Rangers on its new Globe Life Field. His fingerprints are also on Los Angeles’ SoFi Stadium, which resembles a sci-fi spaceship and hosted the 2022 Super Bowl.
Stadiums by HKS and Trubey
“Every stadium I designed was more than just a venue,” Trubey says. “We created a market that didn’t exist before. They’re high-style, high-quality, and can accommodate many different events.”
Ultimately, the architect doesn’t think Fair Park can mirror the impact of his previous projects; he believes it can outdo them. “I think we are beginning to see a slow awakening to the real value that Fair Park holds—it is a civic asset,” Trubey says. “Fair Park has the potential to be one of the most significant, iconic, monumental, urban entertainment and sports destination environments anywhere in the world.”
Trubey decided to leave HKS in late 2021. At Overland, he’s focusing on “passionate, purposeful projects.” He aims to spend the latter half of his career not just constructing buildings but assembling—and reassembling—neighborhoods, communities, and cities. He is enthusiastic about the Fair Park renovation architecturally, but, having grown up in southern Dallas, he is most excited about the financial benefits for the surrounding neighborhoods.
“The Dallas land south of Interstate 30 accounts for approximately 60 percent of all land area in Dallas, but it produces about 10 percent of tax revenue,” Trubey says. “Ultimately, this project is much bigger than a quantified economic impact. It is going to lift the tax base and lift disadvantaged neighborhoods. It’s time to heal, rebuild, and break down these century-old disadvantages.”