At last night’s meeting, and after two hours of debate, the Albuquerque City Council passed legislation to put a $50 million bond for a multi-purpose stadium on the ballot for this November’s election. The arena’s chief purpose would be the home stadium for Albuquerque’s USL team New Mexico United, though it could also be used to host shows, concerts, youth sports, and other sports tourism events.
The measure passed 7-2, with Councilors Brook Bassan and Trudy Jones voting against it.
Del Esparza, pictured below during his testimony, spoke in support of placing the bond on November’s ballot. “This could be the launch of a tremendous soccer legacy in Albuquerque,” he said. “This arena is also a redevelopment opportunity for our city – let’s seize the moment!” he added.
Councilors had dozens of questions, from siting to funding to what agreements between United and the City might look like. City officials maintained those questions would be answered – after Albuquerque residents had their say on public funding for the project.
But as Councilor Pat Davis pointed out, this is not entirely new territory for Albuquerque: the City has a track record of success through Isotopes Park, which generates approximately $1 million in revenues for the City each year. “I think this is a good deal for our city,” he said.
If the bond passes this November, the City will have $50 million to dedicate to construction of a stadium whose costs are estimated to range from $65 and $70 million, according to a feasibility study completed last month. The City has already been awarded $7.5 million from the state’s Legislature that will help bridge this gap; additional funding may also be contributed by New Mexico United, other interested stadium tenants, or additional legislative appropriations. Councilor Isaac Benton also added an amendment that will require a community benefits agreement with the neighborhood where the stadium is built to encourage continued outreach.
We’re pleased to see this progress at the Chamber. United has become an important symbol for our city and more than deserves a stadium home of their own. But more than that, this project presents a redevelopment opportunity that could revitalize our community. And, if the build it Downtown, this stadium, along with a new game-changing “Rail Trail,” could catalyze downtown growth to transform our Downtown into the vibrant heart of our city that it needs to be.
We commend the City Council for letting Albuquerque residents and United fans decide what’s best, and we’ll continue to advocate for public support as the election draws nearer.