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.