Plans to update Amarillo civic center continue after voters denied original proposition

Updated: Dec. 17, 2020 at 10:32 PM CST
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - After a $275 million bond to renovate the Amarillo civic center was voted down last month, plans to update the facility continue.

Inspire Amarillo has created a plan and design to renovate the civic center.

This project is being referred to as the ‘Amarillo Plan’ and is predicted to cost millions of dollars less than proposition A, but with a 15.9 percent city property tax increase.

The Amarillo Plan comes at a time when the city is trying to develop a new plan as well as how to pay for renovations without a tax increase.

“Could we just do this in a way that works practically and design wise better, ok great. But, could we do it in a way where our tax dollars are being spent far, far more efficiently and generating a higher return on investment, and that’s what this plan does,” said Alex Fairly, Inspire Amarillo.

A major part of the Amarillo Plan is the tenant, which could be the Elmore Sports Group.

This is the same company responsible for Hodgetown and bringing the Sod Poodles to Amarillo.

“There’s two things that make a building successful. One, you have to have a great product in it. So like, AA affiliate baseball is a high quality product that people love, but if you don’t have an amazing building owner and team owner, the great product gets watered down with poor operations,” said Fairly.

The Amarillo Plan has the support of the commissioner of the ECHL to bring a AA hockey team to Amarillo.

“Our proposal, because of the way we would structure the management and the tenant in the building, similar to Hodgetown, there will be no shortfall,” said Fairly.

Fairly says this means the city of Amarillo would have no operating expenses for the civic center.

While efforts are being made for the Amarillo Plan to be on the May ballot, the city of Amarillo has a committee working on a different plan.

“It would be absolutely premature to put anything on the May ballot,” said Jason Herrick, chairman of the committee for civic center renovations created by the Amarillo mayor. “I think the Amarillo voters, while they are probably for improvements throughout the city, they really do not want to pay through property taxes to get these things done.”

After 61 percent of Amarillo voters voted against proposition A last month, Jason Herrick says Mayor Ginger Nelson has created a committee to help develop a new way to pay for civic center renovations.

“We are particularly homing in on the ability to partner with private firms to be able to bring a lot more revenue options to the table than property taxes,” said Herrick.

An idea Herrick says he has seen done in other parts of Texas.

His goal is to have the civic center renovated with no or little property taxes.

NewChannel10 reached out to Amarillo Mayor Ginger Nelson about the renovation plans for the civic center and received the following statement.

“The voter response to the Civic Center improvement project was made clear in November. The overwhelming message I received from numerous discussions with citizens was that the time was not right, and we needed to focus on the COVID-19 pandemic.

We welcome citizen feedback on the Civic Center project, and when it’s appropriate, we’ll be more than happy to revisit the project and see what improvements and options we have.

For now, my focus is on our local COVID-19 response, vaccine distribution, and continued economic stability for our local businesses,” said Amarillo Mayor Ginger Nelson.

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