Tag Archives: Potter County Memorial Stadium

Make more room for Tri-State Fair? Sure!

A fellow Amarillo resident has come up with a perfectly solid reason for tearing down the rathole also known as Potter County Memorial Stadium.

His name is Larry Hamilton, who wrote in a letter to the editor of the Amarillo Globe-News: Our Tri-State Fair in Amarillo is a really nice-sized fair. However, with our ever growing size and population, why not tear the old stadium down and increase the size of our fair, midway, eateries – anything that will eventually need more room.

Why not, indeed?

I am not a fair kind of guy. I’ve been to the Tri-State Fair a few times over many years. While it doesn’t appeal to me, I understand the appeal it has for others.

The old ballpark — which sits next to the fairgrounds — is no longer a suitable venue for anything. Potter County isn’t going to spend any money to rehabilitate it.

Larry Hamilton has offered a suitable and plausible reason for tearing it down. Let the Tri-State Fair board expand its annual event, giving it more space for those who like these events to enjoy.

Tear it down! Tear it down!

I feel like revisiting an issue that has been discussed before on this blog. It’s the fate of Potter County Memorial Stadium.

The Amarillo Globe-News has put forward a notion that the stadium’s demolition ought to be an option. I’ll take it a step beyond.

Take the damn thing down!

Let me count the reasons for the venue known formerly as the Dilla Villa to be reduced to rubble.

  • It is in terrible physical condition. Drive by the dump/rathole and you see what I mean. The exterior grounds outside the fence look hideous. Potter County, which owns the place, is doing next to nothing to fix it up.
  • There is no practical use for it beyond it being the home field for San Jacinto Christian Academy’s baseball team. SJCA has a deal to use the ballpark for its home games.
  • Amarillo is going to welcome a shiny new sports and entertainment venue downtown in April 2019, thus removing Potter County’s ballpark from any consideration for future use. The MPEV will be home to a AA minor-league baseball franchise. They’ll play hardball next to City Hall, signaling the continued revival of the downtown district.
  • Potter County Memorial Stadium is the property of Potter County. As the AGN noted in its editorial, the county doesn’t have the money to fix it up. But even if it did, what would be the reason to throw money for a useless cause?

I usually get in trouble with some readers of this blog with these comments. They tell me about the “history” and the “tradition” associated with Potter County Memorial Stadium.

But … as the Globe-News noted in its editorial, they tore Yankee Stadium down to build a new ballpark with the same name. I’m quite sure that The Babe, The Iron Horse, Joltin’ Joe and The Mick all would have objected greatly. But the New York Yankees are still playing ball — and the city got over the demolition of The House That Ruth Built.

Potter County’s ballpark has outlived its usefulness. It’s time for it to go. Sooner, rather than later.

Is MPEV a better site for baseball than what we have now?


Potter County Memorial Stadium won’t be the home field for a minor-league baseball team.

Hmm. Imagine that.

The rat hole ballpark is going to be leased to a high school baseball program. Remember the Amarillo Dillas, which morphed into something called the Texas AirHogs? Well, the AirHogs decided to split their home schedule between Amarillo and Grand Prairie, and then decided to play all their future games in Grand Prairie.

Now comes news that the Pecos League won’t be playing at the stadium, either. The place isn’t worth the expense that Potter County would have to spend to make it a suitable athletic venue.

The place is a dump!


Which brings me to another key point.

They’re wrapping up the demolition of the Coca-Cola distribution center in downtown Amarillo. The city is trying to lure a more serious minor-league franchise, the Class AA San Antonio Missions.

Construction is set to begin — eventually — on a $45 million multipurpose event venue at the old Coke site. The city, though, needs to get a commitment from the Missions that they’re coming here.

We won’t have baseball in Amarillo next year, which will be the first time in a couple of decades that we’ll be without some professional version of the Grand Old Game being played in the city.

The Potter County stadium isn’t worth the effort, let alone the money, to repair, renovate and revive.

As the Amarillo Globe-News reported, quoting count facilities director Mike Head: “Head said it would take $14 million to bring Memorial Stadium ‘back to what I call a suitable stadium. I have to say this. This $5,000 and $10,000 stuff, all they are doing is nickeling and diming stuff. You can go out there and put down $5,000 to kill grub worms and you won’t see the impact.

“’This is just my opinion, and nothing against you Mr. Elliston, I wish you (commissioners) would cancel the contract. Get out from underneath it and let’s start all over.’”

How about removing the Potter County rat hole from the equation and ensuring we get an affiliated minor-league team to play hardball in Amarillo? A new ballpark downtown would be a suitable place to throw out the first pitch.

Potter County ballpark: not worth any more effort


So … I’m visiting with a health care professional and the discussion about the topic at hand comes to an end.

The conversation then turns to the city’s effort to build a multipurpose event venue downtown — which includes the ballpark that would be the home field for a minor-league baseball team.

My acquaintance — who favors the downtown MPEV — then mentions the Potter County Memorial Stadium next to the Tri-State Fairgrounds. “I’ve heard the argument that we should pump more money into that ballpark,” he says. I shake my head and tell him, “But it’s a dump!”

He agrees, adding that the Potter County already has pumped too much money into the ballpark as it is and then he broaches a subject that few individuals seem willing to address: It’s in a depressed neighborhood that is unlikely to see any kind of revival any time soon.

What’s the point, he asks, of putting more money into that ballpark when the city hopes to build a new venue downtown?

Bingo! Presto! Enough said! Those are the thoughts that banged around my noggin at that very moment.

The Potter County-owned ballpark, in the words of retired Amarillo College President Paul Matney, “at the end of its life.” The clock should be ticking on that venue. Its best days are long gone. It is held together with the proverbial equivalent of rubber bands, wire, duct tape and perhaps a staple or two.

Matney made the case all over Amarillo as he campaigned successfully on behalf of the non-binding citywide referendum that voters approved on Nov. 3. The MPEV, with its current price tag of around $32 million, will be built eventually — at least that’s my hope.

Let’s no longer discuss the Potter County Memorial Stadium as having any kind of meaningful future for the county, or the city, or any other entity.

The county has put enough money into it already.

It’s time to look to the future.


MPEV suites sold out … already

amarillo MPEV

Let’s hang a proverbial “No Vacancy” sign on what supporters hope will be a multipurpose event venue to be built in downtown Amarillo.

You see, it’s been reported that all 12 luxury suites designed for the MPEV have been sold. None left.

Interesting, yes? Absolutely.

It’s that ballpark element that’s drawn all the attention from the buyers. They want to enjoy minor-league baseball in the relative comfort of the suites. Wow! Imagine that. Customers jumping at the chance to watch a little baseball in a shiny new sports venue.

Who knew?

No money has been laid out yet for the suites, but Advance Amarillo — a group supporting the MPEV — says without equivocation that enough buyers are waiting in the wings that the suites will be sold out when then project is built.

Gosh, isn’t that what proponents have been saying all along would happen?

Naturally, not everyone is on board. David Kossey speaks for a group that oppose the MPEV. He issued this statement this evening: “We are interested to know who authorized the sale, negotiation, or procurement of any transactions related to a not-yet-built ballpark. Is the Vote For Amarillo crowd pre-selecting an operator of the MPEV without consent of the voters in November, and superseding the authority of the city council? The media campaign by the ‘VoteFor’ group saying ‘all suites are spoken for’ appears to be a continuation of a ‘we will tell Amarillo what they want and who will receive it’ mentality voters removed by the results of the May election. After their attempt to confuse the elderly voters earlier in this election, this attempt to precursor the election with an idea that ‘this is a done deal,’ raises even more questions.”

Well, I don’t know what the verb “precursor” is meant to convey. But what the heck.

There is no effort being made to “tell Amarillo what they want.” The news is merely intended to report that the suites are being claimed by those who want in.

I believe that the MPEV — if it’s allowed to move forward — will produce significant interest among those who want to sit in a nice venue to watch an athletic event. It beats the daylights out of the dump — Potter County Memorial Stadium — that serves currently as Amarillo’s baseball venue.


Build it and they will come … yes?

Amarillo MPEV

I keep hearing critics of Amarillo’s proposed multipurpose event venue — which includes a ballpark design — argue that the city isn’t a baseball town.

They point to the sparse “crowds” that often populate that certifiable trash heap called Potter County Memorial Stadium for the Amarillo Thunderheads games.

There’s your baseball interest, some of them have proclaimed.

I prefer to look at it differently.

The MPEV is up for a vote Nov. 3. City voters will get to decide whether they want to proceed with the MPEV as it’s currently designed. A “yes” vote means it moves forward; a “no” vote means the city should look for another design.

The dump where the Thunderheads play their home games isn’t a suitable venue for anyone.

The MPEV, estimated to cost around $32 million, will present a golden opportunity for the city to attract a major league franchise to hook up with a farm team based in Amarillo.

It’s always been my experience that sports fans prefer to sit in a modern venue with nice amenities to watch athletes perform on the field. The place formerly known as the Dilla Villa is not that place.

I continue to believe the downtown project as presented is worth supporting. The MPEV — whether it contains a ball field or becomes something else eventually — should be a part of the city’s effort to spruce up its downtown district.

They’ve started work on the new Xcel Energy office complex. They’ve cleared the old Coca-Cola distribution center site, relocating it at a new business park. The old jail site has been cleared.

A developer is set to begin work on a downtown convention hotel. And a parking garage is planned for the property next to it.

Will the MPEV be a part of this work? I happen to hope it is.

As for whether Panhandle residents — whether they live in Amarillo or in surrounding communities — will support minor-league baseball if it’s able to move into the new venue, well, time will tell.

It must depend on whether some marketing geniuses can develop a strategy to attract a major league franchise’s attention.

A gleaming new site — if it’s promoted properly — can be enough of a lure.


Let’s think big about the MPEV

Amarillo MPEV

Let us take a moment — or maybe two — to consider some possibilities for a venue that Amarillo officials want built in the city’s downtown district.

It’s called a multipurpose event venue, but “MPEV” has become its signature.

The MPEV is on the Nov. 3 ballot. The ballot language gives voters a narrow choice: whether to allow it to proceed with a “ballpark” included in it design. We will be asked to vote “yes” or “no.”

Critics of the MPEV, estimated to cost about $32 million, say the ballpark element restricts its use. I believe that’s nonsense.

So, we could move the baseball activity that’s been occurring at the Potter County Memorial rat hole, er. stadium for the past few years into a gleaming new downtown stadium.

That’s it? That’s all we can see for this venue? Hardly.

The weather, contrary to many other naysayers, shouldn’t detract from other activities. Why, for example, can’t we have outdoor concerts? Don’t other communities welcome acts to perform outdoors? Aren’t there sufficient numbers of entertainers who would like to play outdoors in downtown Amarillo on a cool autumn evening?

And let’s get real here. We all have appreciated the pleasant temperatures we see even during the summer when the sun goes down along the High Plains. Our altitude — nearly 3,700 feet above sea level — helps make those evenings a reality.

OK, so the winters get chilly around here. And yes, spring can be a bit unpredictable — weather-wise.

The planners who’ve proposed this project haven’t re-invented the wheel. Other communities have enjoyed success with downtown ballparks that have been used for various other activities when they aren’t hawking hot dogs, peanuts and cold beer at ballgames.

What they’re pitching, though, is a new concept for this city. The MPEV will work if it’s given the chance — and if we start thinking expansively about the many uses available to it.