Amarillo, TX - Amarillo city leaders will soon put building the downtown ballpark in motion after a majority of voters put their support behind it Tuesday night.
The non-binding referendum for the ballpark narrowly passed with a majority vote of 52 percent. All five city council members say they will honor that majority.
After a night of celebration for those pushing for the ballpark, it's now back to work to decide how the ballpark will come together. Much of that work will fall on the shoulders of the Local Government Corporation (LGC).
"I would think the council will vote to move it over to the LGC with orders to get this thing moving," said Councilman Randy Burkett.
Burkett is newly appointed to the LGC. Although not originally in favor the ballpark, he's determined to help the LGC make the project succeed. "The responsibility of the LGC, as what I see, is to go find a qualified operator to lease it to, come up with a design, some cost figures and things like that," said Burkett. "At some point, we'll bring it back to the council. We'll look at it and vote on it at that point."
Downtown Amarillo Inc hopes to still be a part of the ballpark conversation even though the LGC will manage most of the future planning. "I hope people will remember this was Downtown Amarillo Inc's plan and my hope is we can continue forward with our plan," said John Lutz, the chair of DAI. "We have different stakeholders in this process. We have the LGC and obviously the city council plays a role. I think with this direction from our city we need to get together and start developing our path forward."
Another big step in the ballpark process is demolishing the old Coca Cola building and the City Hall parking lot. Burkett said doing both will take some coordination with building the downtown parking garage as well. "Before we can blow up the City Hall parking lot, that's a big parking lot there that's part of the ballpark footprint, so before we do this we're going to have to have this downtown parking garage somewhat finished for the parking needs at City Hall and for the people who need to go to City Hall."
The city plans to break ground on the parking garage sometime in January. Burkett said he could see it being a couple years before the ballpark even begins to be built. However, we'll have a better idea of an official timeline once the LGC receives their orders from the council.