Irving Music Hall Remains in Limbo, As Candidate Beth Van Duyne Opposes Project

Categories: DFW Music News
Beth Van Duyne
The saga surrounding the Irving Entertainment Center looks like it's only going to continue for the next couple of weeks, as the Irving mayoral race will now go to a runoff election, set to take place on June 18.

This time, though, the center isn't being challenged by former Irving mayor Joe Putnam, who came in at a distant third in the May 14 mayoral election. Instead, it's coming from mayoral candidate and former Irving City Counsel member Beth Van Duyne, who actually inched by the incumbent Herbert Gears by earning 41 percent of this past weekend's vote.

"This project is destined for failure the way that it's currently designed," Van Duyne tells DC9. "If we want to see something in that area, we're going to have to get somebody else in there to do it."

Meaning: If Van Duyne's elected, it could be a lot longer before Irving gets the massive music hall promised by developer Billy Bob Barnett.

Barnett, who heads Las Colinas Group LP, has been working in tandem with incumbent candidate Gears to get the project off the ground. The centerpiece for the proposed Irving Entertainment Center is a music hall with a flexible capacity of 3,000 to 7,200, which, Gears claimed two weeks ago in an interview with DC9, will change the face of the live entertainment industry.

But Van Duyne believes that the music hall has been poorly developed.

"The music hall is not going to be the end-all-be-all," Van Duyne says. "First, you need to figure out how you're going to get the people there in order to have a music hall."

Despite her trepidation, though, Van Duyne still believes that Las Colinas could use some kind of entertainment center -- although not the music hall being planned in the development.

"A music hall would be a great addition to the city," she says. "I think it's presumptuous right now to do that."

According to Van Duyne, the project has gotten as far as it has, with a lot of presumptions on the city's part. And, if she's voted into office on June 18, she plans to hold an extensive audit to find out how Las Colinas Group LP has spent what she claims to be $36 million in pre-development money. (The Dallas Morning News has put the figure closer to $21.5 million.)

"I'd like to find out if there's a potential fraud," she says.

Regardless of what the audit might reveal, she says that Las Colinas Group LP has had it's chance to get the project off the ground -- and that they simply haven't produced.

"I'm not a big proponent of having someone who spent $36 million and hasn't produced anything other than drawings do something for our city," she says.

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Jimba is  apparently drinking Kool-aid with the incumbent!  Beth has had NOTHING to do with the suit filed to try to expose the fuzzy math in the projections by financial consultangs who were directed by the incumbent mayor gears..:make the numbers work!   The numbers do NOT work because the city is not entitled to glom onto the liquor tax that is included in the projections.  the Attorney General of Texas has confirmed that the city is NOT entitled to those funds as they belong to the State of Texas and the State needs the money now with the economy the way it is and Texas if better off than most states!

Frankly, the figures about the performance schedules and the attendance numbers don't make sense either.  Many people are getting their music via all the new fangled electronic media.  Even Radio City Music Hall in New York cannot book that intensively!  Why would anything think that an Entertainment facility in Irving, TX could book more acts and have more attendance than New York??

The idea is neat but this is a project that private money should build.  With "only" $50 million worth of "skin" in the game with a $250 - $300 million indebtedness, Billy Bob and cronies could walk away relatively unscathed and leave the taxpayers responsible for the bond payments.  Frankly, with the fuzzy math used to try to justify the bonds and the project's ability to pay the bondholders, the taxpayers will wind up paying most if not all of the bondholders anyway...unless the city is forced to file bankruptcy because of excessive debt and decreasing ad valorem tax  collections because of home foreclosures and fewer moderate retail facilities in the city.   


This project would have a lot easier time getting off the ground if it weren't for all the lawsuits and political posturing by Beth and her allies. Beth's talking points have been saying that the project has already cost $23 million ( which covers the cost of renderings and drawings and is a cost that is in line with a project this size). Just a week or so later and it's up to $36 million? Typical Beth...exaggeration for the sake of politics over truth. Beth has always been an obstructionist and has always relied on scare tactics. This city needs this project and it needs continuity and leadership with Mayor Gears. Van Duyne is a master at getting people riled up and throwing out great applause lines, but she is not a leader.

Jacqualea Morrison Cooley
Jacqualea Morrison Cooley

Beth does NOT oppose an Entertainment Center (not called a Music Hall since it will be complete with restaurants, etc.). She opposed the public funding of such a private enterprise. Very few people would oppose a private venture such as this that would want to come to their city. Rest assured that Herbert Gears will try to paint Beth Van Duyne as the lady in black that killed the EC! Your article does nothing to help. Once again, it is not a MUSIC HALL. Using Gears plan the City will be on the hook (he will deny this because he calls them bonds backed by revenue streams which in reality are dry) for slightly less than than $300,000,000. Billy Bob Barnett and his Las Vegas gambling consortium have barely managed to put together $50,000 after bilking the city for over $4.5 million already. BBB and group then reap all the profits for 99 years! How is that for a retirement for BBB and his progeny? Problem is the City will not be able to make it work as it stands. It is a project that needs private investment and private funding just as VanDuyne says.

Don Ro
Don Ro

 The Observer wrote "Meaning: If Van Duyne's elected, it could be a lot longer before Irving gets the massive music hall promised by developer Billy Bob Barnett."  You are wrong. Billy Bob Barnett has truly promised next to nothing because he is not financing the project as presently concocted by the Mayor and City Council. The people of Irving will be on the hook if the Gears/Barnett fiasco goes forward. The mini-audit showed there were millions of dollars that were not properly spent already on the project, and there should be a "fraud" audit of the entire project conducted to see in whose pocket the taxpayer funds have actually been landing. Those who will benefit financially have already been shown to have handed $313,000 of their own money to Gears to finance his reelection campaign.  It has been shown by Beth Van Duyne that private enterprise is ready and willing to finance the project rather than burden the taxpayers with more of this shady, give-away nonsense as we see in the Gears/Barnett plan.

Since the present mayor took office, the taxpayers of Irving have been strapped with three times the debt they were shouldering before, and that debt is now approaching $550 MILLION DOLLARS! There is no reason to add additional hundreds of millions of dollars to that horrendous debt load.

The way to insure the citizens of the City of Irving get their money's worth and the taxpayers are not strapped with a huge bailout for the present group is to elect Beth Van Duyne who will stop this nonsense that will backfire on the taxpayers!

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