Amarillo’s prospects for an affiliated minor league baseball team seemed to vanish this fall when the city of San Antonio shot down plans that would affect the yellow city’s plans.
Despite that disappointment, city leaders are still confident they’ll be able to land an affiliated team for a Multi-Purpose Event Venue (MPEV) voters approved last year.
But, the clock is ticking on that plan.
City officials marked the end of the Coca Cola building this month as the beginning of the development of the MPEV.
“This is the third step in the process that LGC (Local Government Corporation) has been working on for many years starting with the hotel and parking garage and now the demo of the coke property.” Said LGC Chair Sunny Hodge-Campbell.
The controversial project is more than five years in the making, having gone through a contentious non-binding vote last year.
Now that the facility has the approval of the voters, the biggest question remaining is what kind of baseball team will occupy the venue.
“Our movement now in taking that next step is the demolition of the Coca Cola property.” Deputy city manager Bob Cowell said. “That’s really keeping us on the path we need to be going on demonstrating again to those that are looking, both those inside the community as well as those that might be located with a team or something else that we’re still very serious about this process moving forward.”
Mayor Paul Harpole added, “Many things could happen over here. We’ll get a solid deal. We’ve encouraged a lot of people to continue looking at Amarillo and I assure you that when this is finished, we’re going to be very proud of what comes together.”
Mayor Harpole says the city hasn’t given up on the San Antonio Missions moving to Amarillo.
The city had hoped voters in San Antonio would get the chance to vote on a new stadium for a AAA team there.
That would give Amarillo a decent shot at landing the San Antonio Missions AA team.
Those hopes appeared to be dashed in August when the San Antonio city council announced there would be no referendum on a new baseball stadium.
“They’re still talking.” Hodge-Campbell said. “They’re still moving forward. Everyone’s doing what what they need to be doing at this time.”
Mayor Harpole says if the Missions don’t work out, the city will have other options.
“While we cant say who what when where and how, there have literally been forays from four different entities in baseball to say what’s Amarillo doing.”
We will not begin design of the facility until we actually have a team, at least some form of commitment from a team to move forward on that.” Cowell added.
Cowell says whether it’s an affiliated team or not, the team occupying the MPEV will have a say in its design. But, there is a deadline, of sorts, to lure an affiliated team by opening day 2019.
“We’re looking at a May 2019 opening.” Cowell said. “That’s the kind of window that we have. Somewhere around January I’d like to know whether or not we’re in a position to design and we won’t move in that direction until we have a commitment.”
Neither the San Antonio Missions owner or team president returned calls regarding this story.
People familiar with the negotiations say the Missions owners are still very high on Amarillo and the possibility of relocating the AA team to the yellow city.