I remember over the years when Albuquerque voted against such visionary projects as a Downtown performing arts center or a baseball stadium. Many people rushed to speak out against them, reminding us that New Mexico is a low-income state and the dollars must be spent on more important priorities.
As I think back, I can’t remember how those dollars were to be appropriated, but I think it is fair to say that, in general, none moved a needle or created long-term change.
Today, the conversation is about a soccer stadium, possibly in Downtown Albuquerque. What if, this time, we flipped the conversation and thought like “winners?” What if we thought about the opportunities such a place would create?
A Downtown stadium would support small-business owners — from coffee shops to breweries, restaurants to retail. New business and new traffic … translates to increased tax revenue to spend on the pressing items our community so desperately needs. So, in developing a thriving Downtown stadium area, we also stimulate tax revenue.
Thriving Downtowns create ripple effects. Soon, we would see new shops in Barelas, the rail trail, even the UNM area could benefit from the spillover. With ART, soccer fans could quickly and affordably commute between Downtown, UNM and beyond. Essentially, a Downtown stadium would “spread the wealth” directly to small-business owners who struggle to survive and to new entrepreneurs who want to open a business, but rely on neighborhood foot traffic. Crime and homelessness would decrease in the areas thanks to density and activity. Could this be a catalyst for a better community mindset that elicits more wins?
New Mexico United has proven itself to be a notable corporate citizen and a significant asset to our community. It has ignited an enthusiasm I haven’t seen for quite some time. It’s exciting to see a stadium packed with young people, cheering together for an Albuquerque team. Wouldn’t it be great if those fans had safe places in the area to eat, drink and celebrate or shop before and after a game?
Additionally, New Mexico United appears to have high standards for all members of the organization and its fans, making them terrific ambassadors for Albuquerque and New Mexico as they play across the country. They are a powerful influence for young soccer players statewide and now they could bring the opportunity full circle, with a women’s professional team sharing the stadium.
Winners hate losing more than they hate changing. Maybe we should change our thinking this time, in pursuit of a viable stadium development located in Albuquerque’s Downtown. It might ignite a spark that would benefit way more than a soccer team and its fans.