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Will vote really decide Amarillo ballpark fate?

New Amarillo ballpark

A lot of Amarillo residents and a few observers in the baseball world will be closely watching the results of a Tuesday referendum on a new downtown ballpark. But will the nonbinding referendum really matter?

There’s been a ton of local discussions about the proposal for a $32-million Multi-Purpose Event Venue (MPEV), which would be used for pro baseball, soccer and other events and be part of a larger downtown redevelopment plan, including a new four-star hotel. The referendum is designed to see how residents feel about the ballpark component of the plan.

But, as it turns out, the nonbinding resolution may not really matter a whole lot. There will be some sort of a downtown ballpark, according to the five council members ultimately making the decision, and to varying degrees all five say they won’t necessarily following the will of the voters. From

Three of the five councilmen said if voters approve of the ballpark, they will move forward with plans to build a stadium with the full $32 million price tag. Two question the size and scope of the project and will not commit to spending $32 million if it passes.

All five councilmen agree some form of MPEV project will go forward if voters reject the ballpark plan and they will begin work to identify its new centerpiece.

However, Councilman Randy Burkett said a close vote for the ballpark could mean more analysis before he decides.

Part of the issue: voters aren’t really being asked to vote on anything specific in terms of the size of the ballpark or the price tag. The city is at the beginning of planning, not the end.

Amarillo lost affiliated ball in 1982. The Amarillo Thunderheads (independent; American Association) play out of Potter County Stadium.

RELATED STORIES: Road map for Texas League to Amarillo; Amarillo companies commit to ballpark suites; Debate over new Amarillo ballpark rages on; Amarillo ballpark battle in works this fall; Future of new Amarillo ballpark in doubt

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