Gexa Energy Pavilion in Fair Park is born again -- as Starplex

A funny thing happened Tuesday when we received word that bands Chicago and the Doobie Brothers would be coming to Dallas this summer: The press release said they'd be playing Starplex Pavilion.

Starplex? Surely that's a typo.

Not so. The live-music venue in Fair Park is starting the new year with an old name.

Technically, the city-owned, Live Nation-controlled shed formerly known as Coca-Cola Starplex Amphitheatre when it opened in 1988 is now the Starplex Pavilion. But it's close enough, especially for the old-timers who could never get used to calling it the Smirnoff Music Centre, Superpages.com Center or Gexa Energy Pavilion, its moniker since 2011.

Matthew Leishman, Live Nation's local marketing director, confirmed the venue's name change with GuideLive, but offered no further context for the switch.

"There are no additional details at this time," he said by email.

Leishman also tweeted the announcement with a reference to Starplex's Twitter account. And, sure enough, it's confirmed right there, along with the new logo: "Official Twitter of Starplex Pavilion (formerly Gexa Energy Pavilion) in Dallas, TX." The account was created in December.

Daniel Huerta, Fair Park's executive general manager, initially said that he hadn't heard anything about a name change. Later Tuesday afternoon, he said the sponsorship deal with Gexa Energy had expired.

"They have all the rights to naming it whatever they want," he said.

Which the City Council found out when Starplex became the Smirnoff. Some council members, especially Fair Park's Leo Chaney, objected to having a liquor company's brand name associated with a South Dallas music venue.

Starplex is currently in the midst of a City Council-approved $8-million makeover intended to update the facility that hasn't been touched since, well, it was Starplex. Live Nation will pay for the upgrade, but is only on the hook for $1.5 million, with the city paying the rest. Among the redo's highlights: a two-story VIP/Artists Lounge, upgraded video screens, expanded bathrooms and new seating.

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