From the outside, it looks as though Bishop James Dixon lives a very hectic existence with lots of moving parts. But to let him tell it, it’s a very simple life.
Dixon, of course, is the leader of the Community of Faith church, in addition to being a hands-on father and a civic leader in the community as head of the NAACP Houston Branch. And as of last June, Dixon added chairman of the board of the Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation at NRG Park to his plate.
“There are a lot of moving parts, but I’m not the one that keeps them going,” Dixon said in a recent conversation with The Defender at his church on the Northwest side of Houston. “It really is the Lord. I promise it’s got to be.”
It was through intense prayer with God that Dixon received the green light to accept the appointment to chairman of the HCSCC this past summer. Dixon had served on the board since 2018 and was content with that appointment when he was approached about being chairman.
It wasn’t an easy decision.
“I second-guessed as to whether or not that was something that I was suited for, because it’s a great responsibility and it has a lot to do with determining the vision and direction of the corporation of the entire NRG Park and Stadium,” said Dixon, who is the first pastor and African American to be appointed to chairman. “I had to pray intensely as to whether or not this was in God’s plan for me. I came to peace with that through prayer that God was opening the door of greater opportunity to serve and help build a legacy along with my colleague’s on the board that will be a benefit to our city, county and region.”
In addition to making certain to keep happy NRG Park’s core tenants — the Texans and Rodeo Houston — the board is responsible for the 500 events hosted on the grounds while planning the vision for the next 20-to-30 years for the 350-acre complex.
Right now and through most of March, the annual Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is occupying every corner of NRG Park. But the NCAA Men’s Final Four and its massive production with thousands of college basketball fans will take over NRG Stadium and the complex literally within days of the Rodeo shutting down.
It seems like a monumental task, but Dixon says it’s one that the HCSCC and Houston are prepared for. While it will be Dixon’s first rodeo – no pun intended – it’s far from the first for the complex that has hosted Super Bowls and NCAA Tournaments and Final Fours in the past.
In addition to the Final Four, which runs March 31 – April 3, NRG Park is also set to host the College Football Playoff National Championship in 2024 and World Cup Soccer in a few years.
“The preparation has been tedious, but I think people will be proud that we have such a stellar team that entities like the NCAA want to keep coming back. I think people kind of take that for granted. But they have choices. So why do they keep coming back to Houston again and again?
“It’s because The Sports Corp and our team out at NRG are so stellar at hosting these big events that they know Houston is a turnkey operation and they can find the kind of professionalism it takes to do this with as few glitches as possible.”
All the while, the HCSCC board is also tasked with developing the vision for what NRG Park will or should look like in the next quarter-century. That aspect, Dixon says, is right up his alley.
He envisions NRG Park becoming a global destination point that does business seven days a week, 365 days a per year and will pump even more dollars into the county and city.
“Casting vision is something that I really enjoy doing,” Dixon said. “I’m not a management type of leader, I’m more of an innovative visionary.”
A major part of that vision will be deciding what to do with the Astrodome, which still sits on the grounds serving as little more than sentimental memory of what once was. There seems to be growing support to finally tear it down, but Dixon says the board’s job is to determine what is best for the county and then to develop a gameplan.
“It only makes sense to keep The Dome if the dollars are right. If it doesn’t make sense with dollars then it doesn’t make sense,” Dixon said. “But we want to make sure we are making an intelligent decision.”