Tag Archives: Amarillo Center City

Hodgetown earns honor, sending Center City director ‘over the moon’

Beth Duke is beaming with pride … and why not?

The Amarillo Center City director nominated Hodgetown, the city’s new downtown ballpark, for recognition as the best downtown construction project in Texas. Hodgetown then got the honor.

Duke, a lifelong Amarillo resident and a big-time promoter of its downtown revival, should be proud. So should the city for this latest honor granted to the shiny new ballpark that is home to the city’s championship-winning Texas League baseball team, the Sod Poodles.

The award comes from the Texas Downtown Association. It honors the ballpark’s look, its ambience, the attraction it proved to be for baseball fans and other Texas Panhandle residents.

As Duke told the Globe-News, where she worked for more than 30 years before taking over the Center City directorship: “I think you all know how proud I am of every building and the progress we’ve made in our beautiful downtown. I nominated Hodgetown for Best New Construction in a Texas (city) of more than 50,000 people. I was so gratified to be a finalist and the night we won, I was just over the moon.”

She should be over the moon.

I have taken great joy in applauding the city’s effort to build this structure, formerly known as the “multipurpose event venue.” It is a gorgeous home field for the Sod Poodles. More than that, it is a fabulous addition to downtown’s urban landscape.

Hodgetown came to fruition after a sometimes-rocky ride. I am more than willing to acknowledge harboring a doubt or two that the city could complete the project. There was turmoil on the City Council relating to the future of what was called the MPEV. Top-level city management went through a wholesale change with resignations of key personnel, including the city manager.

Despite the occasional ruckus at City Hall, the ballpark was completed. Hodgetown opened this past spring. The Sod Poodles played some great Class AA baseball in a ballpark full of cheering of fans.

Now comes a high honor from a downtown group that bestows honors that cities can use to their marketing advantage.

Beth Duke is the perfect advocate for Amarillo’s downtown district. She is a happy woman today. I am proud of her and of the city for the steps it has taken toward rebuilding its downtown business and entertainment district.

Well done.

Downtown’s future looking brighter

Beth Duke is on a singular mission, which is to improve the economic condition of Amarillo’s downtown district. It makes sense, given her day job as executive director of Amarillo Center City.

This past weekend, Center City conducted a tour of historic structures scattered through the downtown region. The aim of the tour is to give prospective business owners an opportunity to see what the future might hold for the city — and for them.

I happen to support Center City’s mission and I have noted before that the organization has deployed the perfect person — that would be Beth Duke — to carry the mission forward. Duke was born and reared in Amarillo and spent a lengthy career covering the city while working as a reporter and editor at the Amarillo Globe-News.

Another reason for supporting Center City and its effort to juice up downtown lies in the ripple benefit that is sure to accrue across the city over time.

Study after municipal study reveals a common denominator among cities: All of the communities that enjoy economic and cultural vitality also are home to vibrant downtown districts.

Amarillo is on that path. You see it constantly evolving into something few of us can foresee at this moment. The downtown ballpark is under construction; downtown has welcomed two new first-class hotels; new retail businesses are springing up along Polk Street — and existing businesses are moving into shiny new digs.

There’s some positive rumbling about prospects for some rotting structures, namely the Barfield Building and the Ruhl Building.

It’s not all goodness and light. That 31-story skyscraper once known as the Chase Tower is undergoing change, although commercial real estate brokers report a jacked-up interest among folks who want to relocate to it. But then we hear that the Amarillo Club — which occupies the top two floors of the tower — is closing.

Will the historic building tour accelerate downtown’s rebirth? That remains to be seen, although the Globe-News reports some highly positive impact: “Tours like this are great, otherwise I don’t think people would realize what has been done to these old buildings,” said Laura Lane, who took part in the tour. “I am so glad to see historical buildings in downtown Amarillo get refurbished and reused and reinvented. To be able to walk to work, with restaurants everywhere now, this just enlivens the downtown area.”

As the city’s downtown evolution progresses, I feel confident enough to declare that once Amarillo’s work is done — whenever that occurs — the entire city is going to reap the reward.