New ballpark: not a new concept for city


Amarillo is considering a downtown ballpark that could be home to a minor-league baseball team.

Some individuals — maybe many of them — think the city and Potter County have an adequate venue for baseball on the edge of the Tri-State Fairgrounds.

I believe they are mistaken.

City officials once considered a study on the feasibility of building a new ballpark to replace that trash heap once known as the Dilla Villa. Then-Mayor Debra McCartt wasn’t too keen on the idea of spending public money on such a study. The city manager at the time, Alan Taylor, had the idea that if you “build it they will come.”

That was a decade ago, in 2005.

The city’s governing board has changed from a commission to a council. Mayor McCartt is no longer in office, being succeeded by Paul Harpole, who happens to have bought into the idea of a public investment in a project that will do the public much good.

At issue now is whether voters will endorse a proposed multipurpose event venue. They’ll decide the matter in a citywide referendum on Nov. 3. The issue at hand is this: Do we develop an MPEV that includes a baseball park or not?

I say “yes!”

I offered an opinion on the concept of a downtown baseball park in a column published Aug. 14, 2005. I wrote that the nation is full of examples of how projects such as the MPEV — as it’s currently configured — have delivered “enormous payback” to cities that build them.

My favorite example is in Oklahoma City, where a downtown ballpark has helped revive Bricktown. Now, I understand fully that Amarillo is less than half the size of OKC. I keep returning to the notion of that “economies of scale” can work for Amarillo, just as it has done in Okie City.

Let’s not operate in a climate of fear over a concept that might be new to this city, but is far from new in other communities that had the will to march forward.

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