Capitalize on enthusiasm and invest in Albuquerque - Albuquerque Journal

Capitalize on enthusiasm and invest in Albuquerque

There is a saying about soccer in America, that it’s the sport of the future and has been for the past 30 years. The same adage is true about Albuquerque. Sometimes, it feels as if we have a hard time recognizing and capitalizing on a good thing when we have it. The energy behind New Mexico United is one of those things. The public enthusiasm is organic, and it is a locally-owned brand infused with local flavor that people want to be associated with. We can see it in the shirts, jerseys, stickers, scarves and flags that adorn individuals, homes and storefronts across the metro. Players want to come here – many of them are native New Mexicans – and businesses want to be associated with the organization. But, to continue to be competitive, the team and this city need something a little stronger than a nudge. We need to capitalize on this opportunity rather than wait for the future to arrive.

ULI is a nonprofit research and education organization that focuses on this type of issue: How to create new spaces that tap into the enthusiasm and local genius of a place. ULI NM supports the bond measure to fund this stadium. As professionals dedicated to creating great places accessible to all, we see how stadiums built with public and private participation, (and) in the right location, can energize and rejuvenate the surrounding area.

Major sports facilities are more than just an entertainment venue. The best facilities are gathering places that bring people together and are integrated into a community. They create civic pride, … are part of an experience and are identified closely with their surrounding environment.

As a city, we’ve got to be nimble. We need to focus on our challenges and imagine how to create a better city. We need to invest in amenities that give young adults another reason to stay or move here. Supporting economic development and quality of life are among the reasons cities utilize infrastructure bonds. These investments are complementary to – not in competition with – providing public safety, education and other critical services. This stadium project won’t increase taxes.

Important questions remain to be answered, including the final site and how the community benefit agreement may be structured. While we are not advocating a particular site, we are advocating that both voters and the city imagine how the stadium can be part of a larger revitalization effort in the Downtown area. The city can build upon the stadium project and articulate a larger vision for the area that includes new business, jobs, bike paths, housing and public art.

This project can effectively build on enthusiasm for a local product and revitalize our Downtown. Look at our surrounding states – Oklahoma City, Colorado Springs and Phoenix have all transformed their downtown areas with a sports facility. We know Albuquerque has the talent and resources to create its own success story. Our community’s future depends on making investments that make it clear we invest in and care about a vibrant, exciting community with places to gather and things to experience. We need to nurture our local success stories so opportunities to move our city forward are not forever confined to the future. Let’s invest the dollars now to create a place we can all enjoy.


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