In November 2021, the citizens of Albuquerque voted not to allow the city to spend millions on a new stadium for the New Mexico United soccer team. It wasn’t even close, as the margin was just about 2-1 against the new stadium. Local outlets noted how residents “resoundingly rejected the idea” and that the vote was “overwhelmingly” against handing over millions for a stadium.
To be specific, the soccer team was asking for “$50 million in gross receipts tax bonds for the venue”. In exchange, the team would give just $10 million upfront for the new stadium and pay $900,000 per year to use it. Must be nice to give just 1/5th of the costs for a new home and keep all the profits. The night that this proposal died, Mayor Tim Keller, who pushed for voters to allow for the funding of a new stadium, told the public that he and his administration would respect the voter’s decision.
So, that was the end of that. Right? Well…..
“City officials — including Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller — gathered at Balloon Fiesta Park on Thursday to discuss the possibility of the Park as the future home of a New Mexico United soccer stadium.”– BizJournals.com, 03/30/23
The mayor made it a point of saying several times that a new stadium was in the infancy stage and that there were “no contracts or leases”. I mean, I would hope not. But what about the most important part…finances. Not much. Possibly, the state hands over $12 million? Maybe I am reading the article wrong, but it appears to me that the city wants to take money from the Balloon Fiesta Park for a new stadium. What did the Balloon Fiesta Park people say at this meeting?
“Balloon Fiesta officials lobbied state legislators to get capital outlay money for improvements at Balloon Fiesta Park included in the final bill. However, Balloon Fiesta officials were not formally invited to Thursday’s announcement, Rael told Business First after the news conference.”– BizJournals, 03/30/23
Interesting. I am sure they would love to be told that a massive new stadium would be built on their land.
But Albuquerque residents should not worry. The soccer team’s director of communications reminded the media that they have not asked for any public money to go into the stadium construction and that they are happy to “bring a privately-funded stadium to New Mexico”. Both the Mayor and the City Administrative Officer stated that taxpayers would not fund the stadium and that no land would be given or sold to the soccer team.
Except, the chances of the stadium being built without significant taxpayer support is virtually none. Additionally, the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA), that the soccer team owners tried to pass off last time as good for the community, will need to be re-written and increased substantially. Almost all local groups were not included in the CBA, nor did it have anything helpful included in it.