The North Texas bid for Amazon's second North American headquarters made the first round of cuts Thursday to join 19 other finalists still in the running from more than 200 regions originally submitting bids.
Now the real bidding begins to land the prize.
"We're in the playoffs," said Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings. "That first step was kind of filling out the job application. I think we did that really well. Now we get into the detail, listen to Amazon about what they really want, and make sure we can deliver it for them."
The company said it intends to put up to 50,000 workers in a second headquarters over the next 10 years with an investment of up to $5 billion and around 1 million square feet of office space.
"And we've demonstrated that the Dallas growth in the last 15 years is remarkable and we've got the space, the capability, the people to continue that growth," Rawlings said.
The North Texas bid includes locations in several area cities for Amazon to consider.
One is the former Texas Stadium site in Irving at the intersection of state highways 114, 183 and Loop 12.
It's across TX-183 from the Days Inn Irving where owner Mark Patel used to enjoy tremendous business from Cowboys football games.
"It was great," he said. "Very busy atmosphere, plus we were known. The location was known instantly."
Patel is excited about Amazon now, because the site across the road has much of what the company said it wants. There's excellent highway access, proximity to two major airports and DART rail transit trains now pass right beside it.
"You can put a pin on the map again with the location you know," Patel said.
Irving must still compete with the other North Texas locations and with 19 other regions of the country.
Some experts think Amazon could split the HQ2 decision with multiple locations, depending on what offers it receives now.
The finalists are:
- Atlanta, GA
- Austin, TX
- Boston, MA
- Chicago, IL
- Columbus, OH
- Dallas, TX
- Denver, CO
- Indianapolis, IN
- Los Angeles, CA
- Miami, FL
- Montgomery County, MD
- Nashville, TN
- Newark, NJ
- New York City, NY
- Northern Virginia, VA
- Philadelphia, PA
- Pittsburgh, PA
- Raleigh, NC
- Toronto, ON
- Washington D.C.
"I've got to believe that we're still among the top of those on the list," said Southern Methodist University business expert Mike Davis. "At this point, you really have to decide how much this is worth. And Amazon will want very firm commitments, whether it's in terms of taxes, or infrastructure, whatever it might be."
Davis expected to see cities that received high marks in earlier Amazon HQ2 reviews, including Atlanta, Denver, Boston and Pittsburgh.
Davis was surprised to see some other East Coast locations in the final cut, including New York and New Jersey, which are very congested and very expensive.
He also took note of three locations on the final 20 around the Washington, D.C., area, where Amazon founder Jeff Bezos recently purchased a home.
"They are clearly playing politics," Davis said.
But Davis said North Texas still has advantages, including strong universities Amazon said it wants for an educated work force and other recent successful corporate relocations, such as Toyota.
"North Texas is a very known quantity in this sort of thing," Davis said.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said North Texas will be very competitive in the next round.
"We won't be giving away the farm, but we will be putting our best foot forward," Jenkins said. "We'll look at what's in the best interest of the people who live here now, and the future of the people who live here now."
Texas State Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, said state government will cooperate in developing an incentive package.
"My druthers is that Amazon locate within the city of Dallas, so I'm hoping that we can develop a proposal," West said.
Dallas locations mentioned previously include sites in Oak Cliff, sites along the Trinity River downtown, land near the proposed high-speed rail station downtown with planned service to Houston, and the Midtown Project replacing Valley View Mall off LBJ Freeway at Preston Road in North Dallas.
Another downtown Dallas development project that was recently proposed on several large parking lots south of city hall even without Amazon is large enough to accommodate all of what Amazon said it needs. Dallas leaders intend to see development on all of those sites even if Amazon HQ2 goes elsewhere.
"We're going to be successful either way, but we sure want to get Amazon," Jenkins said.
North Texas locations in Fort Worth, Plano, Frisco and McKinney have also been mentioned for Amazon.
The company has not said when it will announce next steps except that it intends to make an HQ2 decision this year.