Texas Wants to Know

Texas Wants to Know: How Did Universal Pick Frisco for its New Theme Park?

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Universal Parks & Resorts

Universal Parks and Resorts is building its newest theme park in Frisco, on a piece of land that is part of a 2,500-acre development that will include the PGA of America headquarters, two golf courses, a campus of the University of North Texas, and thousands of homes.

But how did Universal Parks decide on a suburb 30 minutes north of Dallas for its new micro-park?

"Frisco has built itself a brand that is recognized now across the country, with projects like The Star and PGA Frisco and those types of things. And this is one that actually they approached us about the project," Frisco Mayor Jeff Cheney said. "They were looking to be in this market and, I know, had kind of searched different sites in adjacent cities, and kept hearing the buzz of Frisco and decided that this is where they wanted to be."

The park, which will be geared toward children ages 3-11, will occupy 97 acres at the intersection of the Dallas North Tollway and Panther Creek Parkway. Its footprint is less than one-fifth the size of Universal Orlando and just under half the size of Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington.

"I'm not really surprised that they have decided to take advantage of a theme park industry trend known as micro parks," theme park expert and journalist Carly Caramanna said. "These are basically smaller-sized footprint parks. They're not like these mega parks we're used to. They are intended for a regional audience and they kind of satisfy both needs from a consumer angle and for these major companies."

Frisco offered Universal $12.7 million in performance-based economic incentives. According to the city, those incentives include $10.7 million in grants for infrastructure, like roads and utilities, and $2 million in tax reimbursements for materials issued over twenty years.

The park is a continuation of the northern expansion of the North Texas region, which includes the passage of the CHIPS Act last year, University of Texas at Dallas associate professor of public and nonprofit management James Harrington said. That piece of legislation is expected to bring jobs to Sherman.

"We're going to see a lot of jobs, high tech jobs come into Sherman, which is going to expand that growth up from McKinney through Anna, Melissa, Van Alstyne to Sherman. So we're going to see that," Harrington said. "And we also just see the tremendous growth that's happening within Collin County with Toyota headquarters coming into Plano. We're seeing large investments, in entertainment such as The Star in Frisco, the PGA resort, and Universal Studios. So I think it's going to continue this growth."

Listen to Texas Wants to Know in the Audacy app or wherever you get your podcasts.

Universal Parks & Resorts is owned by NBCUniversal, which also owns NBC 5. Universal Parks & Resorts currently operates theme parks and resort properties around the world including two locations in the United States in Hollywood, California and Orlando, Florida. The company also operates parks in Osaka, Japan, Sentosa, Singapore and Beijing, China.

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