Dallas could spend about $138,000 to host NRA convention


The city and state will pay a combined $1 million in taxpayer dollars to bring the event to Dallas.

DALLAS — This weekend, the National Rifle Association of America will hold its 153rd NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits in Dallas.

From May 17 to 19, the event is expected to bring in 70,000 to 75,000 attendees from across the country, and possibly internationally. 

“There are only five cities really that can hold us due to our size: Houston, Dallas, Indianapolis, Louisville and Atlanta,” said Nick Perrine, the NRA spokesperson. “NRA staff is on the ground getting prepared for this great event already.”

The event was last held in Dallas in 2018. This year, there will be more than 600 exhibitors covering 14 acres of the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in guns and gear shows.

Governor Greg Abbott will speak. Former President Donald Trump will be the keynote speaker on Saturday.

To bring the convention back to Dallas, the state and Visit Dallas agreed to spend about $1 million in total incentives to offset the costs of bringing the event to Texas, according to a document from the Event Trust Funds program. The city itself will likely spend about $138,000 and the state could pay about $862,000. Those incentives could change based on final attendance numbers.

Craig Davis, president and CEO of Visit Dallas, said the incentives won’t be paid until the end of the program, once total business is determined.

“We apply for a certain amount on their behalf, but they don’t get paid until they actually come in and materialize so their incentive is based on their bedroom pickup,” Davis said.

Visit Dallas is a 501(c)(6) formed to promote the city of Dallas as a tourism destination and attract conventions and events to the city. The organization is mostly funded through a mix of taxpayer dollars and hotel revenues, including revenue from Hotel Occupancy Taxes and the Dallas Tourism Public Improvement District. Davis said tourism is key because of the local hotel tax that Visit Dallas receives. The revenues do not come from the general fund of the city.

The state funding comes from the State of Texas’ Event Trust Fund program, which attracts events and meetings to the state by offsetting upfront costs for organizers who host their event in Texas. 

A county, municipality or nonprofit endorsed by a local government can apply to receive state funds for a specific event. How much Texas contributes depends on the amount of tax revenue the event is expected to bring to the state while the event is happening. Then, the county, municipality or nonprofit must contribute $1 in local tax gains for every $6.25 the state contributes. The funds are paid out after the event is over and a review by the Governor’s Office determines the total cost of the event.

In 2022, the state and the city of Houston used the same fund to attract the annual NRA meeting and exhibition, initially setting aside $470,000 to entice the event. About 20,400 people ended up attending the 2022 event and the state paid $320,000. 

Still unclear is the amount of money the city will spend as Dallas police officers provide extra security for the event. 

“As always, the Dallas Police Department constantly monitors for events and shares intelligence regarding any potential threats to events, groups or infrastructure in our city,” the Dallas Police Department said in a statement. 

In addition to law enforcement presence, there will also be security teams visible. Larry Gordon, Chief of Public Safety and Field Operations with Downtown Dallas Inc., said his team has been meeting regarding this event. Downtown Dallas Inc. will respond to quality-of-life issues, while Dallas Police will respond to crime calls. “Our job being over security is just observe and report. Be the eyes and ears downtown.”

At the 2018 NRA event in Dallas, there were protesters and counter-protesters. That’s a possibility this year as well.

The 2024 NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits is expected to bring in millions of dollars of economic development as tourists visit restaurants and businesses, stay in hotels and use transportation.