ST. PAUL, Minn. — It might be that I have caught a glimpse of Amarillo, Texas’s future.
It presented itself more than 1,000 miles north of the Texas Panhandle in Minnesota’s capital city.
Amarillo is in the midst of a downtown renovation/revival/redevelopment. It includes a first-class hotel that’s about to open next to a first-class performance center, across the street from the Civic Center.
St. Paul happens to have — and perhaps this is just a coincidence — a world-class entertainment venue across the street from a historic hotel. I didn’t see the municipal complex, but it cannot be too far from the hotel and the performing arts center, given that this city’s downtown is fairly compact.
We came here to visit my cousin and her husband, who took us to see a world-class performance of “Jesus Christ, Superstar” at the Ordway Entertainment Center. Before we went to the play, we enjoyed a light dinner at the St. Paul Hotel, which was built in 1910.
The hotel was packed. So was the Ordway center.
Oh, did I mention that down the street in St. Paul there’s a ballpark where they play minor-league baseball? There. I just did.
Which brings me to another point: Amarillo is about to break ground on construction of a multipurpose event venue/ballpark which — another coincidence! — will be the home field for a AA minor-league baseball team that will relocate to Amarillo from San Antonio.
They played a ballgame at the St. Paul ballpark. After it ended, they shot off fireworks that entertained a huge crowd of folks gathered in an outdoor park.
I now shall put some of this into a bit of perspective.
St. Paul’s population is about 304,000; Amarillo’s is at 200,000. St. Paul is next to Minneapolis; its metro-area population is about 3.5 million residents, while Amarillo’s metro population is about 280,000. St. Paul is separated from Minneapolis by the Big Muddy, aka the Mississippi River; Amarillo doesn’t have that kind of waterway coursing through it.
So, I realize I’m not making an apples-to-apples comparison.
I do, though, intend to suggest that economies of scale can produce success for Amarillo’s effort to remake its downtown district. Our city’s economic development gurus keep looking toward places such as Fort Worth and Oklahoma City as benchmarks for Amarillo’s potential future. They, too, have done well to revive their downtown districts.
I continue to harbor enormous optimism that Amarillo’s effort is going to produce success. Will it reap the pound-for-pound harvest that other communities have hauled in? Not necessarily. If Amarillo is smart, aggressive and creative in its marketing of what lies ahead, then it surely can enjoy the fruits of it all.
We came up way up north and saw what looks to me like a potential glimpse of what lies ahead for Amarillo, Texas.