Here is what I have gleaned so far from news that Fort Worth might be making an effort to lure the American Quarter Horse Association Museum from Amarillo to Cow Town …
Amarillo Mayor Ginger Nelson has launched a petition drive to collect signatures from Texas Panhandle residents seeking to persuade the AQHA movers and shakers to stay put, to avoid relocating.
Fort Worth City Council has signed a 50-year lease agreement that well could result in the development of a site where the AQHA Museum, a fixture in Amarillo for 70 years, could be relocated.
The story apparently is causing a stir in Amarillo, which doesn’t want to lose the iconic institution, created in Amarillo to salute the ranching industry that has been so vital to the development of the Panhandle since the mid-19th century.
This is no great flash, but it is going to take a whole lot more than thousands of names attached to a petition to keep the AQHA anchored in the Panhandle. It will take some financial inducements, as in real American money.
I don’t know what those inducements would include. I do know that the Amarillo Economic Development Corporation in the past has employed an aggressive strategy to lure businesses to the region in the name of job creation. It uses a portion of sales tax revenue it collects to help start-up businesses, or to lure big-time employers to the region. The Bell-Textron aircraft assembly operation and the Hilmar Cheese plant in Dallam County are two prime examples of the success enjoyed by AEDC’s strategy.
I don’t know if there is a provision in AEDC’s charter that allows such inducements that would apply to retaining an existing organization, or even if there is much actual job growth associated with such a plan.
All I am left to presume is that signatures on a petition carry the same tangible value as political leaders sending “thoughts and prayers” to victims of gun violence.
This effort to keep AQHA where it’s been for seven decades doesn’t look terribly promising.
Well now, it turns out I’m a bit slow on the uptake … which isn’t too much of a surprise. My critics accuse me of such things on occasion.
The Fort Worth City Council has approved a 50-year lease that could portend a relocation of the American Quarter Horse Association Museum from Amarillo to Fort Worth.
Hmm. What do you know about that? It turns out my Fort Worth pal was right when he sent me that message, that a move might be in the works. And it further cements the reason for the petition drive launched by Amarillo Mayor Ginger Nelson to try to persuade AQHA to stay put, to remain where it has called home for 70 years.
I hope the petition drive succeeds and that the AQHA board feels the love that it has enjoyed in the Texas Panhandle for all that time.
However, major cities such as Fort Worth don’t approve 50-year lease agreements without some confidence that the move will bear fruit.
AQHA officials say the “ground lease” does not guarantee a move is imminent. They note that that fundraising efforts in Fort Worth have accelerated. They also express appreciation for their “Amarillo employees” who have worked to make the AQHA museum such an integral part of the community.
OK. So the die isn’t cast. At least not yet.
I wish I felt better about Amarillo’s role in the AQHA future. I am trying to remain optimistic that AQHA will stay put.
However, at the moment it is a serious struggle.
A friend in Fort Worth sent me a message a while ago telling me about reports surfacing over there about the American Quarter Horse Association possibly relocating from Amarillo to Cow Town.
I called Fort Worth City Hall and confirmed that there was a City Council agenda item dealing with a possible permit request from AQHA. The City Hall source couldn’t confirm that AQHA was set to pull up stakes and move from Amarillo to Fort Worth.
Now I see a social media link from another friend of mine that deals with a petition drive — begun my Mayor Ginger Nelson — that seeks to keep AQHA in Amarillo. There’s no mention of where the AQHA museum would go, only that it is seeking support calling for it to remain up yonder in the Panhandle.
To quote the comic Arsenio Hall, it’s one of those things that “makes me go ‘hmmm.'”
The message notes that AQHA has been in Amarillo since 1949. It was formed to salute the impact that horse-breeding has on working ranches throughout the entire High Plains region, which includes the Oklahoma Panhandle and much of eastern New Mexico.
The post concludes: “Amarillo and Canyon Citizens: Help us tell the story of AQHA and why it is important that they stay here along the I-40 corridor where millions of people travel through Texas. Let’s show some AQUA love. Let’s save the horses.”
They have even developed a hashtag: #PleaseStayAQHA.
I have determined, therefore, that two plus two still equals four. My Fort Worth friend well might be on to something with regard to the future of the AQHA.
It truly would be a shame if the association vacates Amarillo for another Texas community.
Check out the petition information here.
It looks to me as if something is afoot.