It’s been in the works for many years, and it sounds like Amarillo officials are ready to move forward on an ambitious downtown redevelopment plan that includes a new Amarillo Sox (independent; American Association) ballpark.
A RFQ for development proposals was issued way back in 2011, with the decision made to pursue a new ballpark as part of a downtown revitalization. The city is now unveiling some details of that revitalization plan, with the total cost $113 million and a new ballpark expected to cost $30.3 million The plan is a go — infrastructure work has actually begun — but the specifics of the rest of the plan still need to be finalized and approved. The team could certainly use a new ballpark — Gary Elliston, chairman of Southern Independent Baseball, admits to some financial issues in 2013 — but city officials warn that while they expect a new ballpark to be built, it’s not a certainty. From Amarillo.com:
Two years ago, Amarillo City Commission approved a downtown development plan that includes a convention center hotel, parking garage and new stadium. City Manager Jarrett Atkinson said construction on the hotel likely would occur first, and estimated it would take 18 to 20 months to complete.
After the hotel’s completion, Atkinson is optimistic the ballpark will begin to take shape downtown.
“I believe that it is very certain,” Atkinson said. “All three (projects) need to come together at about the same time. It exists in some strategic plans which some community leaders have had in place since 2007.”
Atkinson said revenue from hotel room occupancy taxes will help support construction of the stadium, which is expected not only to host baseball games, but other events, such as concerts. Baseball is just one component of the economic package, as development plans show a civic plaza and an arts park are projected for construction in the area.
Interestingly, not everyone with the Sox in onboard; GM Mark Lee says it may make more sense to put money into Potter County Stadium than build a new facility. Still, this is the most progress on a new ballpark in Amarillo in a long time.
Image courtesy of city of Amarillo.
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