From 2007 to 2014, downtown Dallas was the local hot spot to ring in the New Year because of the signature Big D NYE celebration. This year, North Texans will have to find another place to party on Dec. 31.
The event will not take place, confirmed Jim Glass, director of marketing and digital media at WFAA-TV (Channel 8).
If this sounds familiar, that's because Big D NYE also did not take place last year. The event featuring live music was broadcast on Channel 8 but took a hiatus after WFAA's partnership with the venue, American Airlines Center, dissolved in early 2015. An announcement at that time promised "a more powerful audience and attendee experience in December 2016." However, Glass, who served as executive director of the event, couldn't nail down an appropriate venue.
"We just haven't found a suitable location for the event to relocate," Glass says, adding he weighed venues in Fort Worth, Arlington, Grand Prairie, Irving, Dallas and Denton.
"We've looked at every major location that is possible to hold 30,000 to 40,000 [people] between the Red River and Waco."
He said the places he explored did not fit the bill because they did not meet certain criteria, including capacity, access to public transportation, adequate parking, and nearby hotels and restaurants.
"Without all that infrastructure in place, you have to accommodate with more restrooms, more food, more beverage, all those things," he says.
Another biggie: security. And, in fact, that's one of the reasons American Airlines Center opted not to continue to host Big D NYE. In 2014, about 42,000 people attended.
"The event space utilized and available just did not lend itself to the size of crowds that was showing up for the event," said Ken Kuhl, vice president of events and assistant general manager of AAC, by email. "Safety was a very important factor when holding this type of event and with the Dallas Stars game at AAC that night, we were not able to secure the area effectively to ensure a safe, family-friendly event."
Aside from logistics, Glass says, Big D NYE's move must be to a long-term home because it will need to be wired to produce WFAA's coverage of the event.
"We're not just putting on an event, more importantly we're putting on a television show," Glass says. "That makes it more complicated."
And more expensive. Glass previously estimated the move could cost $75,000 to $100,000 in technology alone.
Despite the many obstacles, Glass isn't ruling out the possibility Big D NYE may return in the future. He's spoken with people in charge of developments that have yet to be constructed about the possibility of building accommodations for the station and the event, but any of those would be several years out. (Glass opted not to name them because the projects have yet to be announced.)
"We're very hopeful," Glass says of the possibility. "If we're going to bring it back, we need to bring it back at the same level of quality at Victory Park and meet the standards where we left off."
On Dec. 31, WFAA will be airing coverage of the Ball Drop in New York City's Times Square. Other New Year's Eve options include fireworks at Reunion Tower, electronic music festival Lights All Night at Dallas Market Hall and a Marvelous Nerd Year's Eve featuring celebs like Stan Lee at the Sheraton Dallas Hotel.