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Debate over new Amarillo ballpark rages on

Proposed Amarillo ballpark

Amarillo voters continue their debate over public funding for a new downtown ballpark, as local business leaders push for a new Multi-Purpose Event Venue (MPEV) over the objections of taxpayers.

Multiple groups have sprung up to both support and oppose the plan for a downtown MPEV. Proponents are quick to say that they’re pushing for more than just a ballpark: they’re pushing an events center that will generate economic activity for downtown businesses. Opponents say there’s no guarantee a ballpark will generate economic activity and that the financial risk is too much for a city already pushing against borrowing limits. From

Attendee Mike Beller was passionate in his opposition to the ballpark.

“I want something cool downtown,” he said. “Everybody does, but what is it and who pays for it? … It goes back to, ‘Give us all this money and then hey, here’s what I’m going to do with it.’”

Beller said the meeting provided community members a chance to learn more.

Indeed, that seems to be one of the issues: while the Amarillo ballpark referendum is technically nonbinding, it will certainly help to guide future policy. But voters aren’t being asked to approve a specific plan; they’re basically being asked to commit to the project without knowing exactly what they are approving because the general outline of a 750-space parking garage, MPEV and four-star convention hotel. That’s a hard sell, even in the best of circumstances; with such a vague proposal, it may be hard to pass. But we’ll know after voters go to the polls on Nov. 5.

The Amarillo Thunderheads (independent; American Association) currently play out of Potter County Memorial Stadium, which opened in 1949. The team ownership’s bid to manage the new ballpark has been put on hold,  is not a central player in the ballpark discussions as of late.

RELATED STORIES: Amarillo ballpark battle in works this fall; Future of new Amarillo ballpark in doubt

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