A rendering of the proposed AQHA headquarters presented to the Fort Worth City Council • Photo courtesy of the City of Fort Worth

Fort Worth Signs Lease For Possible AQHA Headquarters at Will Rogers

The Fort Worth City Council has agreed to allow a section of land at the Will Rogers Memorial Center to be developed for a possible location for the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) headquarters and museum.

Officials from the AQHA stressed, however, the approval of the lease agreement — which was between the city and the American Quarter Horse Foundation, not the AQHA itself — does not mean the breed association has decided to move from its current base in Amarillo, Texas.

AQHA Reacts To Vote

Officials from the AQHA said the agreement between the Foundation and the city of Fort Worth does not mean the association has made a “definitive commitment” to relocate.

The association announced in February that a group of external stakeholders, not the AQHA itself, was raising money for a possible relocation of the AQHA.

It also said that a ground lease is something that allows a tenant to develop a piece of property during the lease period.

“This is only a step in the process of the possibility of a move,” the AQHA said in a statement posted on after the Fort Worth City Council vote. “There is no timeline for construction or relocation, as relocation is not guaranteed at this point. It’s important to understand that a move is not imminent and there is no plan for future staffing changes.”

Lease Details

Passed unanimously, 9-0, by the Council on Oct. 29, the 50-year, renewable lease would be for slightly more than a half-acre parcel of land on the 1400 block of Gendy Street. Currently a grassy space next to the Western Heritage Parking Garage, the land is just up Gendy Street from the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History and the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame. It’s roughly block west of the Will Rogers Coliseum.

Fort Worth city officials agreed to allow the American Quarter Horse Foundation to develop as a possible AQHA headquarters & museum • Photo courtesy of the City of Fort Worth.

The Fort Worth City Council lauded the impact of a potential move of the AQHA to the city during an Oct. 15 City Council work session outlining details of the lease. Assistant City Manager Jay Chapa told the Council the project could move 35-60 jobs into the area with the additional hiring of about 125 more, depending on how many current AQHA employees chose to relocate. The timeline called for design work to start once the lease was signed, Chapa told council members, with construction starting in the spring of 2021.

Click here to view a PDF presentation shown during the Oct. 15 work session.

Annual rent would be about $45,000. The terms call for $90,953 annually, or about 8% of the roughly $1.1 million appraised value, but Chapa told Council members that figure would be reduced by about 50% to account for space taken up by the AQHA’s museum.

Credit For Events

The agreement also specifies the Foundation may be eligible for rent credits for additional events held in Fort Worth that produce an “identifiable economic impact.” Currently, Will Rogers is host to the Adequan AQHA Select World Championship Show. The AQHA Convention was held in Fort Worth this year, and the association also held a Ranching Heritage Challenge during the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo.

Specifically, documents say the city officials agreed to credit 25 percent of rent for each year the AQHA’s youth world championships and AQHA World Show are held in Fort Worth.

In 2019, the two large events — the Lucas Oil AQHA World Championship Show and Built Ford Tough AQHYA World Championship Show — were held at State Fair Park in Oklahoma City. The AQHA also has other major shows in Amarillo, Oklahoma, Ohio, Nevada and Europe.

“We have negotiated the ability for them to bring additional events to Fort Worth, and based on the economic impact of those events, we could provide credits to the rent on an annual basis,” Chapa said.

Rent credit may also be available for usable equipment, including horses, donated toward the care of the Fort Worth Herd, a group of Texas Longhorn steers that live at the Fort Worth Stockyards and parade daily down its East Exchange Avenue. Care for the steers is funded by a city tax.

Documents presented to the City Council say rent credit also may be available for horses or horse trailers that can be used by the Fort Worth Police Department Mounted Patrol.

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