EDITORIAL: City Council Needs to Vote No on NM United Stadium at Balloon Fiesta Park
By: ABQ RAW editorial board
Posted: 11/20/2023 8:00AM
On November 2nd, 2021, the Albuquerque voters overwhelmingly voted down the idea of the City of Albuquerque using our funds to construct a stadium for the New Mexico United. During the courting of votes from anyone who would listen, Mayor Tim Keller and NM United owner Peter Trevisani were attached at the hip pitching the stadium idea to voters.
ABQ RAW did a public records request for any and all emails between Mayor Keller and Trevisani only to be told they existed but due to executive privilege they will not ever release them. Here is the story: Click Here for the Story. We have also heard rumors that former right hand man to Mayor Keller, Lawerence Rael is going to be appointed to oversee the New Mexico United Stadium Construction.
The cooling off period of an agonizing defeat had Mayor Keller's administration and NM United ownership re-strategizing a new game plan to get a stadium again built with taxpayer funds. The new idea was to use the Balloon Fiesta Park as a new location with minor improvements to be completed with the funds. Both the United ownership and Mayor Keller held press conferences to woo the community about the great new idea.
The proposed New Mexico United Soccer Stadium at Balloon Fiesta Park presents a contentious issue that demands thoughtful consideration. While the development of a soccer stadium might seem appealing to sports enthusiasts, it's crucial to acknowledge the potential drawbacks and implications, particularly when it involves repurposing a cherished community space like Balloon Fiesta Park.
Firstly, Balloon Fiesta Park holds a significant place in Albuquerque's culture, serving as the premier location for the world-renowned Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. This event draws thousands of visitors annually, contributing to the city's economy and promoting its unique identity. Introducing a soccer stadium could disrupt this tradition, potentially altering the park's landscape and ambiance, and overshadowing the Balloon Fiesta's importance.
Moreover, repurposing public parkland for a sports stadium raises concerns about accessibility and public use.
While a soccer stadium might have its benefits, the proposal's potential negative impacts on a beloved public space like Balloon Fiesta Park cannot be overlooked. According to the Balloon Fiesta, in 2022 it generated $203.19 million of total economic impact for businesses in the Albuquerque metropolitan area.
The New Mexico United's limited schedule and difficult scheduling for outside entities to use the stadium would make it difficult for the New Mexico United to ever reach that economic impact.
Balloon Fiesta Park is a communal space enjoyed by residents for various activities beyond the Balloon Fiesta itself, including picnics, outdoor recreation, and family gatherings. Introducing a soccer stadium WILL limit public access, restrict certain areas, and change the park's dynamic, excluding those who don't have an interest in soccer or sports-related activities.
NM United and the Keller administration have come up with New Mexico United math that would add additional parking to the Fiesta grounds. We are not urban planners and this does not make sense unless 900 vehicles can park inside the stadium.
It's essential to explore alternative locations or consider revitalizing existing sports facilities rather than compromising a cherished community asset. Prioritizing the preservation of public spaces and community needs should remain at the forefront of any developmental decisions to maintain the city's cultural integrity and ensure equitable access for all residents.
The balloon community has already sounded the alarm that having this stadium on the Balloon Fiesta grounds would bring the world renowned event to a slow and painful end. Other balloon festivals around the country and world would be the new spot for the festival.
Scott Appelman President CEO of Rainbow Ryders, Inc Hot Air Balloon Company said in a Facebook post:
Between the challenges with the flying area, the ongoing ups and downs with Sandia reservation. The fact that Balloon Fiesta Park master plan does not include a Stadium.
This is without a doubt the start of the end for the event and happening that made the 505 famous and World renowned for ballooning.
His company is one of the largest players in the Balloon Fiesta and has grown his company to be one of the top businesses in New Mexico.
Murray Conrad who owns World Balloon also told us:
"I land there periodically (on fiesta grounds). They will be taking away a huge landing area and not to mention parking during Fiesta. Balloon Fiesta is the premier event for Albuquerque. There are so many other places they could build".
Conrad's business often launches off site, but his customer base would most definitely be impacted by this stadium.
There are plenty of other locations around Albuquerque that could be used for a premiere soccer stadium. Funds from this project could be used to help make Albuquerque better. The voters have already said no to using city resources for this stadium. Trevisani and the New Mexico United deep pockets should not get any favors or handouts from the city and build a stadium with their own money.
Trevisani is a smart businessman who comes from an investment career who was taught how to turn millions into billions of dollars. He could easily privately fund a stadium in the Duke City with a few handshakes and phone calls.
We urge the City Council to vote NO on this because of the lack of transparency and trickery involved. The voters have already said no, and and are for funds being used in other ways to improve our city.
This editorial appears on ABQRAW's social media and website. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the news site rather than any specific writers.
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