Ballpark vote sparks two new campaigns

Published: Sep. 22, 2015 at 1:48 AM CDT
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Amarillo, TX -  Campaigns are launched to promote and combat the proposed downtown ballpark.

In less than a month, Amarillo voters will decide if a $32 million dollar ballpark will be included in the downtown multi-purpose event venue. The controversial ballot item has two new groups forming to share their side of the argument.

On Monday, retired Amarillo College president Paul Matney announced a new campaign called "Vote for Amarillo." The campaign is going door-to-door to share why they believe there should be a ballpark downtown. "What we want to do is present a positive message and we want to talk about the facts of course," explained Matney. "We recognize that not everyone agrees with us and we can certainly honor that, but we would like to see a good voter turnout. The way we think we can do that is simply try to educate, speak to groups, do some block walking and those sorts of things."

Vote for Amarillo is made up of members of Advance Amarillo, the Amarillo Millennial Movement and about 90 local businesses.

Their campaign announcement Monday inspired those against the ballpark to form a group of their own called "Amarillo Citizens for Tomorrow."

"We're definitely an open forum," said David Kossey, a member of Amarillo Citizens for Tomorrow. "Unlike some of the 'for' pages that block people regularly on the internet, we're open to all kinds of discussion. We've actually changed quite a few minds by using the facts and not trying to use scare tactics. I mean, it's not this way or the highway. It's actually this way or let's work together for something better."

City officials say the ballpark will be paid for by hotel occupancy tax, a yearly baseball operator fee, those who use the event venue and through revenue generated from the parking garage across the street. Those against the ballpark say the numbers don't add up and the space could be better utilized. "If you vote it down, if you vote against it then you actually have options," said Kossey. "It could be like the ARC or it could be something else. It's not just stuck as a ballpark."

Matney said Vote for Amarillo does not want it to be just a ballpark either. "We've identified more than 40 activities. Family movie nights, health fairs, concerts could be staged there. You could have auto shows. You could stage 5k and 10k races. So this is not just about playing baseball on a baseball field. It is about creating this outdoor venue space that we could do a variety of things in our community."

The election is Nov. 3 and early voting is Oct. 19 through Oct. 30.

Madison Alewel - NewsChannel 10