Amarillo, TX - Close to twenty Amarillo residents are pledging more than $2 million to see the downtown multi-purpose event venue (MPEV) become a reality.
When putting the MPEV on the November ballot appeared on Tuesday's city council agenda, Bill Gilliland and Laura Street started making phone calls. In just four days, they raised more than $2.2 million to show support for the project.
At Tuesday's city council meeting, the two offered the money to the council to be used on the MPEV with just one stipulation: that it be built.
They also urged the council to put the MPEV on the ballot in May instead of November. They believe there needs to be more time so residents know what they are voting for. They also believe they can boost their pledges to $3 million.
However, Mark Nair, Randy Burkett and Elisha Demerson voted for it to appear on the November ballot.
Now the group of twenty investors is reassessing how to move forward. "I thought that we created a good faith effort and an offer to help and facilitate, and it wasn't seen that way," said Laura Street. "I'm pretty disappointed. I wouldn't be surprised if we didn't have some funding going forward for educational purposes because really, that's where we are. We have to be able to educate the public about as to why this is important and why it should be built."
Street is concerned about the public misconception that taxpayers will pay for the MPEV. City officials say the estimated $32 million event venue will only be paid for by hotel occupancy tax and people who use the facility.
Right now, there is not a plan B to replace the MPEV if it is voted down by voters. Councilman Burkett said he is organizing a round table of tourism consultants, including Bobby Lee of the Big Texan, to brainstorm backup options.