A proposed new downtown ballpark for the Amarillo Thunderheads (independent; American Association) is in doubt after new councilmembers question public funding for the project.
A new downtown ballpark is part of a long-debated city plan to upgrade downtown Amarillo with a privately financed convention center hotel and other real-estate development. The new ballpark — envisioned as a multiuse event center complementing the convention center — was a key part of the pitch to private investors. The office development is moving forward, but the hotel development is stalled as the city council debates whether to move forward with the ballpark. A runoff election could determine the fate of the ballpark: one candidate wants to move forward with it, once says he’s concerned. From News Channel 10:
The two place 4 candidates, Steve Rogers and Mark Nair, both support downtown revitalization but feel differently when it comes to the ballpark.
“The city has effectively given those private investors our word that the ballpark would occur,” said Steve Rogers. “For us not to build it would mean that we welched on our word and I don’t think the city wants to be put in a position of not being good on its word.”
“I question the value of the stadium,” said Mark Nair. “I cannot find an economic analysis that shows stadiums work. I can find many that say they fail or they do zero for the economy of the city and it’s not worth the investment. I cannot find any that makes them succeed, so I am asking for that information to see if there is any validity into what we are talking about.”
There are, of course, plenty of economic analyses that show ballparks work: downtown Fort Wayne and its revitalization thanks to Parkview Field is a prime example. One suspects Nair hasn’t worked too terribly hard on his research. In any case, this really isn’t an issue of economics: it’s a matter of a city keeping its word to private investors.
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