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 Amarillo.com:
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.