As I watch Amarillo, Texas, morph into something different from what it has been since the Santa Fe Railroad opened up shop on the Texas Panhandle, I am wondering about who or what will shape the city’s future.
It won’t be me. I have moved away along with my wife and our pooch. We live in the Metroplex these days, but I retain a keen interest in the city we called home for more than two decades.
My curiosity turns to the creation of a one-woman “movement” that sought to win approval of what we used to call the “multipurpose event venue,” or MPEV. You remember it, yes? It was called the Amarillo Millennial Movement.
The AMM made a bit of a splash when it jumped onto the front page of the local newspaper and got some air time on local TV stations.
AMM was the creation of one individual, Meghan Riddlespurger. I was able to shake her hand once, and we got to know each other from some distance.
She had a bit of help from others around town to get a referendum placed on the local ballot. The referendum asked residents if they supported construction of the MPEV. They said “yes.” The City Council then honored the residents’ wishes and proceeded with development of the project.
The MPEV is now called Hodgetown. It is a magnificent ballpark in downtown Amarillo. It is home to the Texas League’s Amarillo Sod Poodles, a minor-league baseball team that is playing before healthy crowds. Hodgetown recently was named the nation’s top AA ballpark; the Sod Poodles were named the best baseball team nickname in America. The city is proceeding toward its future.
Meghan Riddlespurger? She bailed long ago. After the 2015 election, she moved to Fort Worth. The AMM exists no longer.
Might there be an actual “movement” on the city’s horizon that emerges to promote the kind of thing that Riddlespurger espoused, which was to promote Gen-Xers and millennials to stay in Amarillo?
Riddlespurger had a noble goal. I am dismayed that she decided against following her own campaign theme. It was perhaps the height of irony that she would form this “movement,” talk up the virtue of staying put and helping Amarillo reap the reward … only to, um, head for a big city far away.
Whatever the case, Amarillo is moving ahead. That’s a good thing for the city and for those who are staying put.
Given that my hope springs eternal, I’ll keep hoping for an actual “millennial movement” to sprout way up yonder on the Caprock.