Ribbon Cutting Day at Historical Longhorn Ballroom in Dallas

The venue that first opened as Bob Wills Ranch in the 1950s fell in disrepair over the past 30 years

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They cut the ribbon Thursday to reopen the 72-year-old Longhorn Ballroom in Dallas after years of abandonment and decay.

Dallas city leaders see a revival of the historic music venue on Corinth Street at Riverfront Boulevard as a catalyst for the rebirth of the Cedars neighborhood around it.

The city of Dallas last year approved a $4 million public investment to support the project. 

New owner Edwin Cabaniss also brought life to the Kessler Theater in Oak Cliff and a Houston music venue.

City records show Cabaniss and his investors are spending $10 million on the Longhorn Ballroom after past efforts failed.

“It’s been a history of financial ruin, suicide, nervous breakdown, so we went in eyes wide open,” Cabaniss said. “I wouldn’t do this if I didn’t have a team. We’re 13 years in with Kessler Presents. We’ve got a well-oiled machine. We have 3,000 shows under our belt.”

Longhorn Ballroom owner Edwin Cabiniss talks about the future of the iconic music hall.

The big sign in front has bright lights again with coming attractions on the marquee.

Thursday’s re-opening ceremony was a celebration with many supporters getting their first look at renovations inside.

“It’s something for our family to give back to our city of Dallas which we love and hold dearly. But it’s also an opportunity for us to raise up a community, both cultural and creatives. And we’re really excited about opening day today,” Cabaniss said.

Just inside the doors, visitors see the walls lined with photos of past performers from so many decades of history.

Shows ranged from Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys to Nat King Cole. It was one of just 7 U.S. venues where the Sex Pistols played in the 1970s. A riot broke out in 1990 when the group “2 Live Crew” refused to play.

There’s a museum of memorabilia from some of those performers.

Ribbon Cutting Day at Dallas' Historic Longhorn Ballroom

Now, three shows are scheduled for reopening weekend including Asleep at The Wheel Thursday, Old Crow Medicine Show on Friday and Morgan Wade on Saturday.

More shows are scheduled in the near future including two nights with Emmy Lou Harris.

Dallas City Councilmember Jesse Moreno, who represents the Cedars neighborhood, also represents competing Deep Ellum venues.

“There’s plenty of opportunity for everybody,” Moreno said. “My envision for the Cedars is a place where people can live, work and play. This is going to add to the play component to it.”

About half of the city’s $4 million investment will replace worn-out streets and sidewalks around the site.

There are large tracts of vacant land further up Riverfront Boulevard, including one that is the proposed station site for Texas Central’s planned High-Speed Rail to Houston. High-rise hotel, office and residential developments are also planned at the station site.  

“From a $4 million investment, we’re going to gain millions upon millions in economic development over the future,” City Councilmember Omar Narvaez said.

Regardless of what happens on the other land, the Longhorn Ballroom owner said he intends to hold up his end of the bargain surrounded by existing neighbors.

“We do believe it will be a catalyst. We can hold on if it’s not. We’re totally fine with the scrap yard. We’re fine with batch processing. But in 20 years if there’s high rises here, we can work with that too,” Cabaniss said. “What we do need is people to come buy some tickets.”

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