A new Amarillo ballpark for a relocating affiliated Texas League team could be partially funded by $36 million in hotel taxes, leaving the city to fund a $8 million gap partly with money already in city coffers.
Today’s Local Government Corporation (the organization charged with downtown development) meeting featured a discussion of ballpark funding options for a potential new downtown Multi-Purpose Event Venue (MPEV) as an anchor for new development that would also include a four-star hotel. The cost of the project is now $44 million after city officials were informed of the possibility of landing the San Antonio Missions (Class AA; Texas League), as the project now covers a ballpark that meets Class AA specs.
So the funding plan begins with a raise in the local hotel tax, a favorite tool for funding sports facilities: the money doesn’t come from locals and doesn’t require any property tax hikes. That hotel and occupancy tax should raise $36 million, per myhighplains.com:
[Assistant City Manager Michelle] Bonner suggested adding a hotel occupancy tax and applying for an additional grant, which could help offset the cost.
She said that “the city has been setting aside dollars and we’re estimating that by the time we start construction of this project if it were to proceed we’d have $8 million that we can use to help offset the cost”.
Both of those suggestions, if passed by the LGC board at their next meeting, goes to the city council for review.
The funding gap could come from a ticket surcharge and parking fees at a nearby parking garage. The $44 million covers all aspects of the ballpark construction, including street and infrastructure work.
The path to affiliated ball in Amarillo was improved the last few days when Elmore Sports Group warned local fans that the Colorado Springs Sky Sox (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) could be moving to a new downtown ballpark, making the San Antonio Missions (Class AA; Texas League) potentially available for relocation. While Amarillo officials have been the most aggressive in their pursuit of a potential team, we’d expect other cities — like Wichita — to at least look at a new ballpark, as Texas League teams don’t often become available for a move.
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