It’s not big-league baseball.
But what the Amarillo City Council has endorsed has taken the city closer to a bigger league-brand of hardball.
The council today voted 4-0 to proceed with the pursuit of a Class AA baseball franchise that would play in the yet-to-be-built ballpark in the city’s downtown district.
Will it be the San Antonio Missions, a franchise that would vacate the Alamo City as it seeks to welcome a AAA franchise?
The council has decided to accept the more expensive price tag attached to the multipurpose event venue, which city voters endorsed with a citywide referendum this past November. The MPEV price tag was listed at $32 million on the ballot measure, but the price has increased to more than $40 million as the AA franchise became part of the community discussion.
The council’s decision instructs the Local Government Corporation to proceed with the design and construction of the ballpark. City Councilman Randy Burkett said construction won’t begin until the city has a signed contract with a franchise.
I happen to be quite pleased with this development.
The city has been jerked around by the owners of the independent franchise that is still playing its home games at the Potter County Memorial Stadium. This season, though, the Amarillo Thunderheads are going to play half of their “home” games in Grand Prairie.
That’s some commitment to Amarillo, yes? Well, no.
The AA franchise being considered most actively is affiliated with the San Diego Padres of the National League. The Padres could bring some serious professionalism to the baseball climate here.
I am gratified that the council has decided to move forward with seeking to lure a serious baseball franchise to this city.
There remains much work to do and many commitments to be collected. The LGC has been handed a huge task.
My hope is that the organization is up to the challenge that’s been delivered.