The battle lines are being drawn in Amarillo over the future of a baseball-centric multiuse facility, with multiple groups lobbying voters in anticipation of a nonbinding referendum in November.
Two groups, “Vote against the Ballpark” and “Amarillo Citizens for Tomorrow,” are already mobilizing in anticipation of the fall vote. A new group, “Vote for Amarillo,” was out door-knocking this past weekend, drumming up support for the project along with two other citizen groups.
The new ballpark — or, rather, a Multi-Purpose Event Venue (MPEV) — is part of a larger downtown redevelopment project that will include a 750-space parking garage and four-star convention hotel. The facility is envisioned as being more than just a ballpark: it would also host larger events in conjunction with the convention hotel, as well as soccer games, family nights and more. (Envision Fort Wayne’s Parkview Field as the model.)
It’s hard to say how important this nonbinding referendum really is. For instance, it’s nonbinding: the Amarillo City Council will be free to do what it wants to do irrespective of the final count. Second, it’s not exactly clear what voters will be voting for. There’s no specific plan, no specific design, no specific budget. So voters will be asked to weigh in on the idea of a venue, not a specific ballpark for a specific team. From My High Plains:
“Vote for Amarillo” co-chairman Paul Matney says building the MPEV to suit baseball will give the city flexibility to include dozens more activities.
“A ballpark really makes a perfect outdoor performance base. We also have the advantage of having a baseball team that will fill 50 to 60 of those dates. But then, the field itself provides an opportunity and a facility to do all kinds of community events.” Matney said.
Matney says they’ve identified as many as 40 other possible events to fill the unused dates each year at the MPEV.
The Amarillo Thunderheads (independent; American Association) currently play out of Potter County Memorial Stadium, which opened in 1949. The team ownership is not a central player in the ballpark discussions as of late.