Tag Archives: MPEV

MPEV sprouts like a weed in downtown Amarillo

Holy cow! We haven’t been gone all that long  from Amarillo. We’re coming back for a quick visit and we’re going to see the change taking place at a rapid pace in the city’s downtown district.

A friend sent me this picture. It is of the multipurpose event venue — the “ballpark,” if you will — that’s under construction across the street from City Hall.

I am beginning to believe that, by golly, they’re going to be ready for the first pitch to be tossed in April 2019.

The ballpark will be home to an as-yet unnamed AA minor-league baseball team that’s affiliated officially with the San Diego Padres of the National League. I’m still pulling for Sod Poodles to be the new team’s name. So help me I don’t know why, but I have changed my initial opinion of that name that showed up on a list of finalists under consideration.

The ballpark continues to be very big deal for the city. It will cost an estimated $44 million. It will seat about 5,000 baseball fans. My hope — perhaps it’s even my hunch — is that the ballpark will be full of fans when someone throws the ceremonial first pitch on Opening Day of the Texas League season in Amarillo.

I look forward to casting a gaze up close when we venture to Amarillo in a few days. We’ll be back just a few weeks later to attend a concert at the Civic Center.

I won’t be surprised to see that the ballpark/MPEV has sprouted even more dramatically as the city marches its downtown district to a bright future.

I hate wishing for a drought to continue in the Panhandle of Texas, but another dry winter — such as what the Panhandle experienced this past winter — will enable the contractor to finish the job on time.

MPEV occupant lines up a big-league affiliate

The San Diego Padres are coming back to Amarillo, Texas.

Amarillo’s upcoming minor-league baseball season has cleared yet another hurdle. The Padres used to be affiliated with an earlier Amarillo baseball franchise. They’re back in the fold with the new team that doesn’t yet have a name.

It is getting a ballpark, though. Bit by bit, the multipurpose event venue is going up along Buchanan Street. They hope to have the venue complete by April 2019, when the AA season commences in Amarillo.

Given the progress I’ve seen — albeit from some distance these days — I am no longer going to doubt the project will be done in time for the team to toss out the first pitch next spring.

The San Antonio Missions are moving to the Panhandle from South Texas; San Antonio will be home to a new AAA franchise that is relocating from Colorado Springs, Colo.

The next big question now appears to be: What are they going to call this new Amarillo baseball team?

I’ve done a 180 on this one. I once hated the Sod Poodles name that showed up on the list of finalist names being considered by the Elmore Group, owners of the new Amarillo team.

I am not entirely crazy about the name today, but the thought of the name has grown on me. I now officially hope that Sod Poodles, or some derivation of the name, becomes the name of the new team that will take the field.

But … the city that is remaking its downtown district — with new hotels, entertainment venues and a serious dressing up of street corners — has a new major league baseball affiliation about which it can boast.

Not bad.

Amarillo’s MPEV superstructure taking shape

I am going to send good vibes from the Metroplex back to Amarillo.

An Instagram picture posted by a friend of mine shows that the multipurpose event venue under construction in downtown Amarillo is taking shape, literally.

The digging and excavation must be essentially complete. They’re beginning now to erect the superstructure of this community-changing venue.

To which I say: woo hoo!!

When it’s done the city is going to have a 4,500-seat ballpark downtown. They’re going to play AA hardball beginning in April 2019. The San Antonio Missions are relocating to Amarillo. The name of the new team has yet to be announced. I’m still pulling for Sod Poodles, but that’s another story for another time.

Today, I want to express yet again my pride in Amarillo for the bold measures it has taken to reshape the personality and the character of its downtown district.

The MPEV is going to be the major player, the star of this extreme makeover.

I recently drove into downtown Amarillo to purchase some tickets at the Civic Center box office. I zipped past the parking garage and noticed that the retail venues are still vacant. I keep reading that tenants will start pouring into the storefronts when the MPEV gets much closer to completion. Let’s hope it happens.

Meantime, MPEV construction continues.

Gotta hurry, gang. April is just around the corner.

Blog accomplishes a key mission

A friend offered me a compliment about my blog, although I don’t believe he intended for me to accept it as such when he said it.

He lives in Casper, Wyo., these days and we were talking about our respective communities just the other day. He told me about how Casper is thriving, growing and changing its character.

I then weighed in with a comment about how Amarillo, Texas — where my wife and I lived until this past May — is now undergoing a radical makeover in its downtown business/entertainment district.

“Oh, I know all about it,” he said. How’s that? He’d been reading my blog as I have tried to chronicle the myriad changes under way in downtown Amarillo. “I have been following it all along through your blog,” he said.

Well …

How ’bout that? My old friend wasn’t intending to deliver that as a feel-good statement. He was stating it as a fact. High Plains Blogger has been telling a story that at least one reader of the blog has been following closely.

I will accept that statement from my pal as high praise. And it’s validation for one of this blog’s several missions.

I have stated that this blog intends to comment on “politics,” on “public policy” and also on “life experience.”

The downtown Amarillo message I send out on the blog I suppose could qualify on all three themes. There’s been a ration of local politics coming into play; the City Council has imposed plenty of public policy while moving the many projects forward; and the city’s own brand of life experience.

So it is with some satisfaction that I share this observation with you today. It appears this blog is performing one of the tasks I intended for it when I began writing it way back when — which is to chronicle one of the communities I have called “home.”

Oh, and there’s the political stuff, too.

‘Gotta love minor league ball’

I suppose it could be a lot worse, or a lot more worthy of argument, as Amarillo, Texas, awaits the naming of its new AA minor-league baseball team.

The team owners are pondering a list of five names that emerged as “finalists” to be considered for the new team name.

My favorite, if you want to call it that, is Sod Poodles, which the Elmore Group said is an old-time term used to describe prairie dogs, a critter common throughout the High Plains.

But I got an interesting message from a friend of mine who wanted to provide a bit of perspective to this whole matter of team-naming.

My dear friend writes: I know you’ve been agonizing over the Amarillo team’s name, but here are some examples from Thursday’s Word Sleuth: Bees, Curve, Fire Frogs, Hooks, IronPigs, Lugnuts, Muckdogs, Owlz, Rawhide, Snappers, Stone Crabs, TinCaps, Yard Goats, and my personal favorite, Biscuits and Gravy. Love that minor league ball!

My friend, who lives in Beaumont, Texas, also wants me to mention “Golden Gators,” which was the name of a team that once played hardball in the Golden Triangle.

Yep, I love minor league ball, too.

The Amarillo team’s ownership said it wanted to build a community talking point with the list of finalists. It seems to have succeeded in that mission. Whatever name they reveal for the team is sure to get ’em talking.

But … I’m still all in for the Sod Poodles. Yeah, it’s a weird name, but the fans will get used to it. Of that I am certain.

Worst or best names?

A letter to the editor in today’s Amarillo Globe-News comes from a man who, I think, understands why the weird names on the finalist list being considered for Amarillo’s new baseball team may produce one of the potentially “best” team nicknames of all time.

Here’s the letter; it’s brief:

Regarding the recent letter to the editor in Amarillo Globe-News (Letter: ‘Sod Poodles’ has competition for worst name in minor league baseball, Aug. 3, amarillo.com) about “Rocky Mountain Oysters” being the worst name in professional baseball, it is just a matter of opinion, but I think “Rocky Mountain Oysters” is one of the best minor league baseball team names.

Ever.

And “Toledo Mud Hens” runs a close second.

The letter is signed by Dick Novotny of Amarillo.

I think the man gets it.

I admit to being initially turned off by the list of finalists when the Elmore Group — owners of the AA team that will play ball in Amarillo beginning next spring. Then I started thinking about it. I also heard the team’s justification for going with the goofy names.

It made sense. The team owners want the team name to become some sort of brand for the outfit that will play ball. They point out that many other minor-league franchises have fielded teams with strange-sounding names. The two of them noted in the AGN Media letter are good examples.

I have heard already of the Mud Hens. I understand that the Mud Hens are popular in Toledo, Ohio, irrespective of the name of the team.

I’m still going to go with Sod Poodles as the new team’s name. Who knows? Perhaps the Sod Poodles will emerge eventually as the “best minor league baseball team name … Ever.”

How much change awaits downtown Amarillo?

A young couple we met this week in Plano, Texas, seems to share my optimism about the future of downtown Amarillo.

They both grew up there. They know the city well, better than I do. Hey, my wife and I only spent 23 years in the city, so I’ll concede that my body of knowledge isn’t as deep as those who are of the Texas Panhandle city.

Our conversation turned to the upcoming ballpark that’s under construction. The stadium will be done no later than the spring of 2019. Then they’re going to start playing AA minor-league hardball at the shiny new park. It will seat about 5,000 fans. My hope is that it’s full on opening night — and on subsequent game days.

Our new friends said the city well might see the kind of entertainment explosion that has occurred in other cities with downtown athletic venues. They didn’t mention them specifically, but I thought immediately of Oklahoma City, where they built a ballpark, then welcomed the burgeoning revival of the old warehouse district that’s now called Bricktown.

One of our new friends believes the row of old warehouses east of City Hall and the new ballpark are slated for a similar revival once they start playing baseball downtown.

I hope he is right. Indeed, if other communities can rehabilitate old buildings, bring them back to life, generate more revenue for the community, then Amarillo would seem to be ripe for a similar spate of good fortune.

The city is witnessing a significant uptick in business activity already along Polk Street.

I am going to hold out hope — and belief — that more good fortune is on its way.

Texas AirHogs speak Chinese?

I saw a story in the Amarillo (Texas) Globe-News and chuckled quietly as I pondered how I might respond to it.

You can read the story here.

It’s about an independent baseball team that plays its home games in Grand Prairie, near Dallas. They call themselves the Texas AirHogs. But here’s where the chuckle comes in: Its roster is populated by Chinese athletes who are getting some playing time while preparing for the Asian Games in 2020.

There’s more. This team used to play some of its home games in Amarillo. The team once was based exclusively in the Panhandle, then it decided to split its “home” schedule between Amarillo and Grand Prairie.

Over time, the team decided to move exclusively to Grand Prairie, where it now is a training ground unit for the Chinese national baseball team.

My head is spinning over this one.

And it damn sure makes me glad that Amarillo is on the verge of welcoming a AA major-league-affiliated minor-league team that next spring begins playing hardball at the downtown Amarillo ballpark that is now under construction.

There won’t be this kind of Mickey Mouse baseball going on with a team associated with a bona fide Major League outfit. They will play baseball in a shiny new park, ushering in a new era for the city’s profound image makeover.

Good luck, Grand Prairie. Amarillo’s fortunes have taken a significant turn for the better.

Looking forward to watching downtown transform itself

The structure in this picture is of the Santa Fe Building in downtown Amarillo, Texas. It is one of the two most architecturally interesting buildings in the downtown district; the other is the Courtyard Hotel that is housed in the historic Fisk Building just down the street.

What’s the purpose of this post? Well, my wife and I have moved away from Amarillo, but we haven’t severed our ties with the city. We intend to return regularly. One of our sons lives there and works in the Santa Fe Building.

This blog intends to point out how much I look forward to watching downtown Amarillo evolve. Given that we won’t see it do so daily, we’ll be able to watch the evolution occur over periods of time. I look at it as watching the city change in a sort of time-lapse fashion.

The Santa Fe and Fisk buildings over time might lose their standing as the downtown district’s most prominent structures. Yes, the city also has that 31-story tower that eventually will be called the First Bank Southwest Tower once the bank moves into its ground-floor digs.

With all the activity that’s occurring downtown, my hope is to watch all this unfold in larger chunks. They’re building the ballpark on Buchanan Street. They’ve already opened the Embassy Suites Hotel across the street from the Civic Center.

Other buildings along Polk Street are being rehabbed, rebuilt, re-purposed.

We’ll be on the road to this or that destination, but we will return to Amarillo to pick up and then deliver our recreational vehicle.

Yes, I look forward to watching the city remake itself.

We lived for more than two decades in Amarillo. We enjoyed our life there. However, for most of that time, downtown didn’t appear to take many steps forward. There was a sense of stagnation and at time apathy toward the center of the city.

No longer. The city is moving forward at an accelerating pace.

I will be thrilled to watch the progress taking tangible shape each time we return.

Amarillo channeling OKC?

I’m hearing some similar-sounding economic rumblings from two places: Amarillo, Texas and Oklahoma City.

An acquaintance of mine, Jason Herrick, active in Amarillo Matters, a pro-business political action group, writes this via Twitter: You mean the same OKC that first built a downtown ballpark, then attracted a minor league team and kicked off a revitalization of downtown? And now they are attracting new hotels and investment because there is demand for the product?

I am going to surmise from Herrick’s message that downtown Oklahoma City is continuing to stir, to come to life, to enjoy the fruits of public investment.

Amarillo’s downtown district is beginning to rumble in much the same manner, again thanks to some public investment.

You see, OKC decided some years to invest some public money into construction of a new ballpark near what’s now called Bricktown in the downtown district. The ballpark is now home to the city’s AAA minor-league baseball franchise. Bricktown took off, too.

The city encouraged development of an entertainment district along a Canadian River tributary that flows through the downtown area. Abandoned warehouses were re-purposed. The city built a new sports venue downtown, where the Oklahoma City Thunder play NBA basketball before packed houses.

Life is good in downtown OKC.

So, where is Amarillo tracking these days? From my vantage point it appears that the city of my former residence well might be along the same track. Yes, I get that Amarillo doesn’t have a river running through its downtown district. I also understand the disparity in the size of the two communities: Amarillo has 200,000 residents; OKC is home to around 700,000. Still, there are signs of life to be seen in little ol’ Amarillo.

A downtown ballpark is under construction. The city has opened a first-class convention hotel. Polk Street is stirring back to life. Residents are moving into newly developed dwellings.

Where will the future take Amarillo? It needs to look just a bit eastward along Interstate 40, toward OKC, perhaps to get a clue.