Public commentators overwhelmingly blow up the thought of ​​a metropolis stadium »Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller (left) announced his plan to issue a stadium loan to voters during a New Mexico United game last month. He is pictured with councilors Cynthia Borrego, Pat Davis, and Lan Sena, and New Mexico United President Peter Trevisani. The Council has since received many public comments that are critical of the proposal. (Roberto E. Rosales / Journal)

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While Albuquerque City Councils are considering a $ 50 million stadium loan

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The 143 pages of written public comments filed ahead of Monday’s city council meeting mainly concerned the multi-purpose stadium proposed as the new home for the New Mexico United soccer team. Critics outperformed supporters about 13 to 1; They called the idea “ruthless,” “thoughtless,” and “egregious,” and expressed concerns that a publicly funded downtown stadium would displace low-income residents while enriching a few people. One critic called the project “a handout for the private sector that adds no value to the lives of the ordinary people who make up the community”.

New Mexico United fans cheer during a recent home game. The professional soccer team, which currently shares Isotopes Park with the resident baseball team, gave fans yellow construction workers helmets the night Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller announced plans to loan voters a stadium loan. (Roberto E. Rosales / Albuquerque Journal)

Several commentators argued that the soccer team should use an existing public venue – including the city-owned isotope park, which it currently shares with the baseball team of the same name – or pay to build their own stadium. Many complained that the city has far more pressing concerns, including the instability caused by COVID-19 and the growing number of people living on its streets.

“After nearly 17 months of enduring a major public health emergency, massive economic crisis, and annoying inadequacies in our social programs, it is numb to spend millions of dollars on a new stadium,” wrote Sydney Tellez.

Mayor Tim Keller announced his move last month to get the $ 50 million bond issue in the November 2nd vote. Councilors Isaac Benton and Brook Bassan support the legislation to send the issue to voters. This decision is to be made by the Council at its meeting on August 16.

Benton said he wasn’t surprised by the wave of opposition, calling it an expected response to “big governments and big corporations getting a deal,” but he didn’t judge public opinion based solely on email comments. As a downtown city councilor, Benton said he believes a stadium could have a positive impact, but the city needs to have a strong community service agreement with each neighborhood it chooses.

Bassan, meanwhile, said that the negative public reaction made her pause, but that she believes that election is the best way to resolve the matter.

“I definitely wonder if a stadium should be built or not; for me it is one more reason to put this on the ballot, ”she said in an interview. “Of course there are so many opinions going from one end of the spectrum to the other. In my opinion, every single opinion should count here. “

Some people wrote to the council in support of the project, largely highlighting the construction activity involved. And four people – including New Mexico United President Peter Trevisani and the team’s communications director David Carl – endorsed the stadium during live public commentary during the city council’s final session.

United fan Carlos Tenorio – who said he was known as the “Sombrero Man” at United games – said the city needed a stadium “for our beloved football team” to help downtown.

“The stadium is not just for the here and now in Albuquerque, but for the future – for my children and grandchildren and for the tenorios who will be here in Albuquerque 16, 17 generations later,” he told the city council.

Keller’s $ 50 million loan proposal came after a Denver-based consultant conducted a feasibility study recommending a 10,000 to 12,000-seat stadium that was between $ 65 million and $ 70 million before land acquisition costs Would cost US dollars – and even more with additional canopy. CAA-ICON evaluated four potential locations in the greater downtown area and identified two as “preferred” locations: Second Street / Iron and Coal / Broadway.

Advisors assumed a United-dominated annual event schedule, but also two annual high school sporting events and two concerts, though local promoters said this would likely offer limited concert opportunities. Advisors said the stadium could also host smaller events such as weddings, banquets and carnivals.

Officials say they would not choose a location until voters approve the bonds, which the city would settle with gross tax receipts. Taxes wouldn’t rise as the city would essentially replace the recently paid off bonds with new stadium bonds.

Several critics, who have written to the city council, have pointed out that they are fans of New Mexico United but don’t think a large public stadium investment makes sense.

“While I really enjoy the New Mexico United Games and appreciate the city’s efforts in family-friendly activities, I have also experienced firsthand the deep economic and emotional difficulties the city faces in investing in other areas that affect its residents,” said Italia Aranda wrote, noting that the city should instead devote additional resources to developing affordable housing or supporting families who have suffered during the pandemic.

A spokeswoman for Keller’s office said the city is already investing in public safety, youth programs and homeless services, but should consider other options at the same time.

“We also need to look ahead and invest in projects that, if done right, can add value to our entire state while protecting our historic neighborhoods and building an economy that works for everyone,” Mayor spokeswoman Ava Montoya said in issued a written statement, adding that the city has already started talks with the parishes of Barelas and South Broadway.

She said the stadium could be used beyond United to generate revenue and the football team would pay rent to help pay bonds – much like the isotopes.

However, the city has not yet made any revenue forecasts for the planned facility.

A local resident wrote to the city council that to ask voters to approve the funding without saying where the stadium would go, “put the cart in front of the horse” and that the community should have more information before making a decision meets.

Many e-mail writers expressed concerns that a downtown stadium would add value to historic neighborhoods and potentially lead to evictions.

“With so many people living in these areas, they can’t even afford the ticket price to a United Soccer game,” wrote Mercy Marrujo.

One author complained that CAA-ICON’s study did not adequately examine the economic impact of the project, while another said the city needs better ideas for economic development than “subsidizing a private company’s infrastructure costs.”

“There is no silver bullet for the troubles that plague (Albuquerque), and even if it did, it wouldn’t come in the form of a lower league football stadium. When shops and storefronts are empty all over town, what makes anyone think that the bursting of a huge downtown stadium will suddenly bring those shops back to life or that new businesses will suddenly flourish in and around this stadium, ”wrote Alex Curtas. “Please be more creative with your ideas on how to help ABQ and get NM United to pay for their own stadium.”

Trevisani said United is seeking the same type of public-private partnership that the Isotopes have in their city-owned park – an arrangement that has proven successful and valuable to the wider community.

Ultimately, however, he said letting voters decide is “responsible … and right”.

“Let’s see what the public has to say,” said Trevisani in an interview. “We live in a big city, and it is diverse. I think we look forward to hearing from everyone and seeing how voters feel about it in November. “

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