Mayor Keller Steals Ball from Voters, Still Finds City Resources for NM United Stadium
Updated: Sep 29
BY: ABQ RAW staff
POSTED: 09/29/2023 @ 3:15PM
a proposed rendering of the new United stadium at Balloon Fiesta Park
In a Friday afternoon news dump, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller's office sent an email titled: Quality-of-Life Projects, Including Stadium, Proceed. Four out of the five paragraph email was all about the New Mexico United Stadium and the City of Albuquerque partnership with the new stadium.
The other projects mentioned in the email were that the City of Albuquerque is advancing to include the Rail Trail, North Domingo Baca Aquatics Center, Rail Yards and New Mexico Media Academy, UNM TIDD, and the Downtown Business Improvement District. There were no additional emails with details provided for those places. The stadium for the New Mexico United soccer club has been hotly debated and was put to the City of Albuquerque voters. The voters rejected tax payer funds being used for the stadium in November of 2021 by a large margin. Today, the City intends to lease 7 of the 365 acres of Balloon Fiesta Park to New Mexico United so they can build a multi-purpose stadium in Albuquerque. No City funding will be used to build the stadium, and United would be required to invest a minimum of $30 million into the site.
Where the potential NM United Stadium would be.
"Albuquerque families deserve world-class amenities, and we won't give up on projects like a stadium that fulfill these quality-of-life needs," said Mayor Tim Keller in the news release. "Leasing underutilized land at Balloon Fiesta Park not only helps United grow, but also enriches one of our most frequented areas and provides new economic opportunities–a significant win for our city and a potential game-changer for our community."
At a July 24th, 2021 New Mexico United home game, Mayor Tim Keller, The New Mexico United ownership, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller, then-Chief Operations Officer for the city Lawrence Rael, and other city high level city employees publicly pitched the idea of a city funded stadium through city bonds.
We publicly requested all emails from the Mayor's office with anything dealing with the New Mexico United. Our request ranged from when Keller was elected to current day. We were specific in asking for any emails from NM United owner Peter Trevisani, newmexicoutd.com domain emails, and Mayor Keller's office.
City Clerk Ethan Watson and staff fulfilled the request and provided us with 63 emails. The majority of those emails were press releases, drafts for editorials, and a few confirmations of meetings. Mayor Tim Keller invoked executive privilege under state laws and it is unclear how many emails were blocked from the request.
There were NO emails provided in the public record request from the New Mexico United owners and staff. We wanted to see what kind of deals and promises were made with NM United owners and Mayor Tim Keller.
In a statement on September 29th, 2023, the Balloon Fiesta released this statement:
The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta’s Board of Directors met with representatives of the City of Albuquerque and New Mexico United last month to learn more about the impact of a potential United stadium on Balloon Fiesta’s operations. Three key areas of concern were raised during that meeting: parking, access to Balloon Fiesta Park and infrastructure improvements. We continue to receive these assurances and look forward to continuing the conversation to achieve these goals.
The lease requires approval by Albuquerque City Council and is being introduced on Monday, October 2, 2023.