Amarillo voters approved a new downtown $32-million multi-purpose event venue (MPEV) in a nonbinding referendum, by a margin of 52 to 48 percent.
Though the vote was billed as being close — some 820 votes made the difference out of the 22,000 cast — it is certainly noteworthy that voters approved the project. Traditionally, voters reject publicly financed ballparks (see: Wilmington, N.C.), which is why ballpark-funding opponents always call for a public vote on a proposed project. In Amarillo, opponents got their way in terms of a public vote, and the public approved the project. From Amarillo.com:
“Half of Amarillo wanted a ballpark, the other half did not,” said stadium critic Dave Kossey. “The reasonable compromise would be a baseball stadium, but not a $32 million one. Let’s work together to make sure a ballpark is cost-prudent so that the next mission, the Civic Center, can be addressed.”
Vote For Amarillo co-chairman Paul Matney sees things differently.
“I’ve always said that I believe that the City Council has been very genuine in this vote. I think they really wanted to see what the preference of the people of Amarillo was,” he said. “Now they have the preference on that, and I hope that they will move forward with this idea. I’m going to trust them, as I think all of us are.”
Voters were asked a very simple question: if they approved a new downtown MPEV with a budget of $32 million. The project is part of a larger redevelopment of downtown Amarillo that will include a high-end hotel and other development.
Until the referendum passed, the city had let the ballpark-management deal out for bid, and the only respondent was ownership of the Amarillo Thunderheads (independent; American Association).
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