The cockamamie decision to merge the Amarillo minor league baseball team with the team in Grand Prairie seems to have gummed up the works in Amarillo’s planning to develop its downtown event venue.
By definition, the place would be home to multiple uses. Hence, the name “multipurpose event venue.”
The City Council has ratified the voters’ decision to proceed with the MPEV. The ball — so to speak — is now in the hands of the Local Government Corporation, which the council created to carry out council policy.
The baseball franchise merger was announced as being for the 2016 season. The Thunderheads and the AirHogs will play 50 “home” games, with 25 of them in Amarillo and 25 in Grand Prairie. The league where the teams play said in a statement that it expects the teams to return to their home fields perhaps by 2017. We’ll see about that.
Does this mean the MPEV is a non-starter, that the ballpark element no longer will be applicable? Not in the least.
The $32 million venue will have 4,500 or so permanent seats. That’s enough to accommodate a well-run Class AA baseball team. Once they break ground on the venue, my hope would be that the Chamber of Commerce, the Convention and Visitors Council, Center City, Downtown Amarillo Inc., City Hall’s senior administrative staff and anyone else with a bright idea or two start a coordinated marketing effort to bring that franchise to Amarillo.
Meanwhile, there are plenty of other opportunities to use that complex. There has been talk of “family nights,” of church-related events, downtown-related parties and perhaps even outdoor concerts occurring at the MPEV.
Are any of these out of the question? Not by a long shot.
Like a lot of other Amarillo resident, I also am scratching my head over this franchise-combo idea. On the surface it looks for all the world like a loser for both cities. To be candid, I don’t know how this is going to work well.
The goofiness of this decision, though, need not preclude the attractiveness of a new sports/entertainment venue in downtown Amarillo. If it means doing business with another league and another baseball franchise, then that’s fine.
The task, though, rests with the marketing experts who can make it work.