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Amarillo debating play for San Antonio Missions

New Amarillo ballpark

Amarillo officials are looking at bringing in Brailsford & Dunlavey and spending an additional $18 million to lure the San Antonio Missions (Class AA; Texas League) to a new downtown ballpark — which, at the present, is a long shot.

A little background: Earlier this fall Amarillo voters approved via nonbinding referendum a new Multi-Purpose Event Venue (MPEV) as an anchor for a downtown development that would also include a four-star hotel. The total budget for the MPEV development is $32 million, and while it’s not been formally approved by the City Council, that approval is expected in coming months. What may slow things down, however, is a play by the city for the San Antonio Missions, a team that may be on the move if a Triple-A team moves to a new ballpark. From ABC 7:

“There is a specific pathway to secure a AA Texas league team for Amarillo and that team right now would be the San Antonio Missions, but there is a lot of work to do from saying that and actually having a team relocate here,” said Rich Neumann, Vice President at Brailsford and Dunlavey.

Part of that path is a ball park that meets minor league baseball standards. That kind of stadium would cost about $50 million, but it could also make the venture more successful in the long term Yet, it also means finding $20 million more to attract the Missions.

“We’ve earmarked $32 million, so if a AA team comes, we’ll have a case of the shorts,” said City Councilman Randy Burkett. “We’ll have to raise some private dollars and look at some other avenues but we won’t go after any tax dollars, property tax hikes, or any of that.”

The process seems pretty clear: Brailsford & Dunlavey will work on a game plan that could lead to a AA-compliant ballpark. After that, everything is up in the air and requires a series of events outside of Amarillo’s control: San Antonio must approve a new downtown ballpark (with the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs having a veto over any new downtown facility, per the team’s arena lease) and attract a Pacific Coast League team, while Amarillo must ward off potential competitors for a Texas League team (Wichita officials have talked new ballpark in recent months, and with the Texas League having so few available teams, other cities may decide to throw their hat in the ring as well), persuade San Antonio ownership to commit to Amarillo (which is far, far from a done deal) and find $18 million to upgrade the new ballpark to meet MiLB standards. Tall order, which is why there wasn’t a whole lot of optimism on the subject from owners and GMs at the Winter Meetings.

RELATED STORIES: Amarillo voters approve new downtown ballpark; Will vote really decide Amarillo ballpark fate?; 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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