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Dallas Convention Center Named For Ex-Sen. Hutchison

City of Dallas
Dallas City News Network

The Dallas Convention Center is now the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.  The City Council approved the name change Wednesday to honor the former Texas Republican senator and Dallas resident.

The vote to name the 2-million-square-foot convention center after Hutchison was 11-0 and came after council members took turns thanking Hutchison for millions in federal funding for the Trinity River project, DART and the renovation of Love Field, along with the upcoming repeal of the Wright Amendment.

Before the vote, a couple of speakers urged the council to hold off. Tom Blackwell said that because Hutchison remains a force in the Republican Party, the re-naming could politicize the convention center and scare off business.

“A resolution that praises her for serving as vice chairman of the Republican conference -- I think this would send a message a particular message to Democrats as customers of the convention center that is not appropriate," Blackwell told council members.

Mayor Mike Rawlings, a Democrat, said the re-naming is not political, but an acknowledgement of the Senator’s consistent bipartisan work to improve the quality of life in Dallas.  And he called the action “entirely appropriate,” noting that convention centers in Houston and San Antonio are named for politicians.

“Even more significant, this will be the first major convention center in the country to be named after a woman,” Rawlings noted.

Hutchison thanked council members for their generous comments and the honor of her name on the city’s convention center.

“And I am going to do everything to bring people in to see it, to represent the greatness of it; and to try not to ever in a controversy that would affect the economy and the strength of this city,” Hutchison said.

It’ll cost about $200,000 to change the three big signs outside to the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center. 

Former KERA reporter BJ Austin spent more than 25 years in broadcast journalism, anchoring and reporting in Atlanta, New York, New Orleans and Dallas. Along the way, she covered Atlanta City Hall, the Georgia Legislature and the corruption trials of Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards.