'AA' baseball vote passes, LGC to move forward

'AA' baseball vote passes, LGC to move forward

AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - A resolution to bring an affiliated baseball team to Amarillo has unanimously passed.

A 4-0 vote among council members at Amarillo City Hall Tuesday night will officially move the Local Government Corporation's (LGC) game plan to bring an 'AA' baseball team forward. A Letter of Intent with one team is currently being drafted, according to LGC advisory board member Jerry Hodge.

That team is not yet confirmed, but the council is optimistic.

"We've had them in Amarillo, they've looked at the location, they looked at all the activity going on here in downtown Amarillo," said Hodge. "I think in the very near future we'll have a letter of intent with them."

The city council stressed Tuesday evening that a letter of intent is not enough of a commitment to begin breaking ground for construction.

"We're by no way committed to building the stadium, or breaking ground anyway," said councilman Randy Burkett. "The first step is the Letter of Intent. Then the real thing is the actual contract, and that will come later. But we won't do anything across the street [from City Hall] until we have signed a contract for numerous years with an affiliated team."

The majority of the funding for this $48 million project will be coming from a municipal bond, city contributions and hotel occupancy taxes.

Private funding will also play a big role.

Hodge said there is a couple in Amarillo interested in contributing $2 million for naming rights for the future stadium.

Now it's up to the LGC to start the design process and get a confirmed budget.

"We ended up telling the LGC [to] go ahead and pursue affiliated baseball, and then when [they] figure out the whole plan and the design and all that, come back and we're gonna say, 'here's the money,'" said councilman Mark Nair. "And I'm really hoping that design and all that will be a lot lower than what we're all expecting."

In December, the LGC voted unanimously to pursue a higher level team like the San Antonio Missions, a Texas-based minor league baseball team currently affiliated with Major League Baseball's San Diego Padres. The vote also stirred complaints among some Amarillo residents, since the cost of housing an affiliated team increased an already-controversial price tag for the MPEV's construction.

However, Burkett said after the December vote the adjustment was necessary.

"The landscape has changed over the last six years," Burkett said. "(An) AA team takes most of the risk out of it. An independent league and an independent team is very risky. They are here today and gone tomorrow in some cases."

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