The Amarillo City Council, led by Mayor Ginger Nelson, gave a State of the City presentation and, quite naturally, spoke of all the good things that have happened in Amarillo in the past year.
There are initiatives designed to improve the San Jacinto neighborhood, efforts to dress up other underserved neighborhoods around the city and, of course, the downtown renovation effort that is ongoing.
I want to extol the virtues of that ballpark they built on Buchanan Street.
Hodgetown is a shiny new entertainment venue. It served as home field for the Amarillo Sod Poodles, the new AA minor league baseball franchise that won the Texas League championship in their first year playing hardball in Amarillo.
The structure cost a bit more than it was advertised as costing when Amarillo voters approved a non-binding referendum in November 2015. It was pitched as a $32 million venue, but ended up costing more than $45 million. I believe even at the greater price Hodgetown is still investment worth making.
There’s no way to know whether the Sod Poodles will repeat their initial success with another league title in 2020. That’s not the point. Fans will show up in the thousands for games in Season No. 2, just as they did in the team’s initial season.
I was unable to attend any games; I no longer live in Amarillo.
Hodgetown, though, does stand as a tremendous addition to the city’s downtown district. I have had the pleasure of admiring the structure on return visits to Amarillo.
City officials have much to commend their service to the public. I maintain the idea that downtown revival will ripple its way throughout Amarillo. It’ll take time, but the city’s investment in downtown is bound to bring significant reward even to those neighborhoods where residents contend the city has ignored.
Hodgetown is just one of the jewels in the city’s investment crown.