Tag Archives: Vote For Amarillo

Positive vs. negative in MPEV debate

amarillo MPEV

Amarillo’s campaign on the multipurpose event venue is heading for the home stretch. Early voting ends Friday.

A week from today, the polls open and those who haven’t voted early will get a chance to vote on whether to build an MPEV that includes a ballpark, a place where a minor league baseball team can play a little ball for about 50 or 60 dates annually.

Have you heard about an alternative to the ballpark if voters nix the notion? Me neither.

Which brings to the point today: The Against Crowd hasn’t delivered an alternative. It has, as near as I can tell, relied on a purely negative message.

That’s expected. An “anti-anything” campaign by definition must be negative. You don’t like something? Say “no.”

On the other side of the divide is the pro-MPEV group. The leading advocates belong to something called Vote FOR Amarillo. The very name implies a positive message.

And that message is?

Well, as its leading spokesman, retired Amarillo College President Paul Matney, has stressed: The MPEV will put Amarillo on baseball’s “radar” by providing a first-rate sports venue; it will create several dozen permanent jobs and hundreds of temporary construction jobs; the bonds to pay for the $32 million construction will be retired using hotel/motel tax revenue; it will become an essential element in downtown Amarillo’s rebirth; and that rebirth will spur further economic expansion throughout the city; the MPEV could play host to a variety of activities throughout the year that have nothing to do with baseball.

That’s a positive message, yes?

Of course it is.

Those who oppose the MPEV say the Civic Center needs renovation first. How do we pay for that? With, um, public money. They contend the city shouldn’t acquire debt to build an MPEV, but don’t seem to mind acquiring such debt on the Civic Center, with a cost that will far exceed the price tag attached to the MPEV.

They keep bringing up things such as secrecy, nefarious motives, the failed master developer (who was nowhere in sight when the MPEV idea was first floated around 2006).

If only we could hear some options from those who oppose the MPEV — for whatever reason.

If there are alternatives on some hidden table, then let’s not talk among yourselves. Share them with the rest of us.

I’m planning on going with the positive message.


Early vote numbers for MPEV election … way up!

early voting

The early indications from both sides of the line dividing Randall and Potter counties in Amarillo are encouraging … I hope.

Early voting for the Nov. 3 election is way up over what it was for the municipal elections this past May. I’m quite sure the Texas constitutional amendment proposals aren’t pulling voters to the polls in the early balloting.

What’s more, the 3,063 voters who cast ballots during the first two days is just a shade less than the 3,151 who voted in the first two days of early voting in the 2014 general election — when we were voting for governor.

The multipurpose event venue is pulling voters to the polls.

Is that a good thing? Well, I hope it is.

And by “good,” I hope that means that those who support the MPEV as it’s been presented are turning out. Do I know who’s turning out? Of course not.

Me? I ain’t voting until Nov. 3, which is Election Day. I hate early voting. I prefer to wait until the last minute.

Back to issue at hand.

The early vote totals should bode well for the pro-MPEV side. I count myself among them. Perhaps it’s just wishful thinking. Then again, when I say “should,” I am not necessarily predicting that’s what happening, but instead hoping for what I want to happen.

I’ve been trying to parse through all the arguments for and against the MPEV. I’ve heard the skeptics, the naysayers, the conspiracy theorists. I have sought to examine the issue inside, outside, forward and back.

I keep coming back to this conclusion:

We’re hoping to build a $32 million venue that includes a ballpark in downtown Amarillo; the money will be paid back with hotel/motel tax revenue generated by out-of-town visitors; a hotel developing is plunking down $45 million of investors’ money to build a four-diamond hotel; we’re hoping to build a parking garage with revenue bonds that also will be repaid with hotel/motel tax money.

Property taxes will not increase.

This is a classic public-private partnership that’s seen success throughout the nation. Amarillo’s civic and political leadership has not reinvented the wheel with this project. It’s merely done something new … for Amarillo!

I see virtually no downside to this project. I’ve been on board since the beginning and I have grown weary of the cynics who just know it isn’t going to work.

How do they know it? They just do.

I am going to put my faith in the hard work that’s been done to date.

Furthermore, I am going to continue to hope that the pro-MPEV political action groups have done their spade work and have mounted a massive get-out-the-vote effort that well might be showing itself in these impressive early-vote totals.

As Paul Matney, co-chair of Vote FOR Amarillo, said the other day, the early vote will set the trend. When the city spits out those first early-vote numbers on Election Day after the polls close, we’ll know where the MPEV is headed.

I’m hoping for the best.


So … why are pledges for MPEV suites a bad thing?


Here it comes. Some conspiracy theorists are now putting out allegations that businesses pledging money up front to use luxury suites at the proposed multipurpose event venue in downtown Amarillo are, um, buying votes.

Let’s take a breath, eh?

First, I want to make an admission. I got ahead of myself in an earlier blog post about the MPEV suites when I wrote that they’d been “sold out.” Although I noted in my blog post that no money had changed hands, the headline indicated the suites had actually been sold. My mistake.

Here’s the earlier post

Back to today’s issue at hand.

A leading opponent of the MPEV, David Kossey, wondered why the suites are being “sold” or “reserved” prior to the citywide vote on the MPEV, which is set for Nov. 3. He said that normally, the suites would be put up for the public to decide whether to purchase the suites. The implication is that businesses are pushing their way to the head of the line.

The co-chair of the pro-MPEV political organization, Vote FOR Amarillo, Paul Matney, told NewsChannel 10: “We’re finding out that businesses want to support the ballpark by committing to a suite. There’s no contract and this is not a commitment to an operator, just simply to the idea.”

So, I’ll pose this question. Why is the commitment from business interests in a venue that they want built a bad idea?

The $32 million MPEV construction will be financed with revenue bonds that the city will repay through a variety of funding sources. Hotel occupancy tax is one of them; rental revenue is another.

And, oh yes, revenue from the selling of these luxury suites is yet another payback method.

MPEV suites gobbled up

The interest expressed by business owners is what it is: a commitment to a concept they believe will benefit the city and the region. Is there some of what I like to call “enlightened self-interest”? Sure there is. They want to provide their business customers/clients with some quality entertainment. So what?

The bottom line is the bottom line. They’re helping finance an entertainment complex that its supporters believe will spur greater economic activity in the city’s downtown district.

That is a bad thing? No. It’s a very good thing.




MPEV fight: Goliath vs. David

amarillo MPEV

Two groups have formed to carry the fight forward on Amarillo’s multipurpose event venue, which will be decided Nov. 3 in a non-binding municipal referendum.

Under normal circumstances, I’d be pulling for the underdog in such a contest, the one with little money, name ID or significant political backing.

Not this time.

In one corner is Vote FOR Amarillo, which is campaigning in favor of the $32 million MPEV, ballpark component and all. In the other corner is Amarillo Citizens for Tomorrow, which opposes the MPEV design.

VFA vs. ACT. There you have it.

As my friend Jon Mark Beilue reported in the Amarillo Globe-News on Sunday, the differences between the organizations go well beyond their respective views on the MPEV.

For example:

  • Paul Matney, a highly respected — and admired — former Amarillo College president and community leader, is leading the VFA effort; ACT doesn’t appear to have anyone leading it.
  • VFA has registered as a political action committee; ACT has not.
  • Matney and Wendi Swope are serving as spokespersons for VFA; ACT hasn’t designated anyone to speak for the group.
  • VFA has secured the backing of dozens of key community leaders, business groups and civic organizations; ACT calls itself a “grassroots organization.”

I am not going to denigrate the grassroots aspect of ACT’s political base. However, it is important — to me, at least — that a political action group is marching forward with critical backing from a diverse base of business and civic interests.

VFA wants the MPEV to proceed as it’s been presented. The ballpark will be more than a ballpark, Matney and others have declared. It could play host to a number of outdoor activities that could attract visitors to a revived downtown district.

One of the more curious arguments being offered by ACT has been its contention that hotel-motel tax revenue that would pay for the MPEV’s maintenance and operation would be “exhausted in a few years,” forcing the city to increase property taxes to pay for future Civic Center improvements and expansion. I’m not quite sure what one has to do with the other.

Even if the city were to expand and dress up the Civic Center first, it would do so with certificates of obligation or perhaps submit the proposal to voters for their decision on whether to approve a bond issue election. Either way, property taxes would come into play.

I continue to support the MPEV as it’s been developed and presented. Moreover, I will continue to put my faith in an effort led by someone with the credibility that Paul Matney has earned through his many years of service to his hometown.




MPEV campaign aims at older voters


I’m officially an old man now … not that I’m complaining.

A campaign flier arrived in the mail Wednesday. It comes from “Vote FOR Amarillo,” the organization formed to promote approval of a Nov. 3 ballot measure to decided the fate of the proposed multipurpose event venue slated for construction in downtown Amarillo.

“Dear Seniors” is how it’s addressed. The note is signed by none other than past Amarillo College President Paul Matney, who’s my age. He’s a longtime friend and is a key member of this political organization.

The pitch is pretty straightforward, but in actuality Matney is preaching to the choir, so to speak, when he offers these tidbits, which include:

The MPEV can be a successful venue for a number of activities, such as concerts, church services, charity walks, health fairs, car shows, fireworks displays. He didn’t mention it, but yes, baseball games, too.

Here’s my favorite pitch, though. “Property taxes will not be used to build the MPEV and ballpark. Rather, Hotel Occupancy Taxes and private dollars will be used. Visitors to our city are funding this. Not our residents.”

This last message, though, needs to go to non-seniors, folks who aren’t yet 65 years of age. You see, my property taxes are frozen, as the state grants that privilege to homeowners 65 and older. I would hope Vote FOR Amarillo would be aggressive in informing non-old-folks of the reality that property taxes aren’t going to pay for this venue, estimated to cost around $32 million.

The flier’s aim is to promote voting by mail, which is now available to older residents.

Although I appreciate the effort made to inform me of that procedure, I’m going to pass. I intend to wait until Election Day to cast my ballot.

I’ve been on board with this project from the beginning. Nothing has come up to make me change my mind.

However, I intend to stay with my often-stated preference for waiting until the very last day to cast my vote — in case something should arise.


Matney does the right thing … as always


Paul Matney has been a pillar of Amarillo for far longer than the 20-plus years I’ve known him.

When I heard today that he resigned from a downtown Amarillo board over a potential conflict of interest, my first though was: Yep, that’s Paul. He usually follows the right path.

Matney joined a group that is promoting approval of the Nov. 3 advisory vote on whether to proceed with the multipurpose event venue. He also had served as a member of the Downtown Amarillo Inc., board, which is an arm of City Hall.

He’s now the co-chairman of Vote For Amarillo, which is launching a campaign promoting the MPEV.

Matney issued a statement that said, in part: “Even though I am serving Vote for Amarillo as a private and interested citizen, and not as a representative of DAI, in order to clear up any confusion, I believe the right thing to do is to resign from the DAI board. Thus, I have submitted my resignation from the DAI board.”

There’s enough confusion out there over this issue. There need not be any hint of it as it regards Paul Matney, a long-time educator and college administrator, whose last full-time job was as president of Amarillo College.

Matney’s standing in Amarillo is beyond reproach. His resignation from he DAI board demonstrates it.