AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Amarillo City Council unanimously approved the authorization of the city of Amarillo Texas Hotel Occupancy Tax Revenue bonds.

With approval, the bond will help cover the cost of Hodgetown Stadium facility improvements made mandatory by Major League Baseball.

Facility updates include additional locker room areas to accommodate women athletic personnel and increase netting in foul ball areas.

“We have to live up to certain facility standards that Major League Baseball sets, said Tony Ensor, President and General Manager, of Amarillo Sod Poodles. “A lot of the measures that we’re talking about, deal with the health and wellness and safety enhancements for our players, our coaches, our baseball staffs, that Major League Baseball provides us, as well as increase facilities for female staff.”

Ensor continued, “There’s a lot more females that are getting into the game from a coaching staff standpoint, from a from a medical and physical training standpoint, and so we have to upgrade our facilities to be able to provide proper and safe facilities for our new female staffers coming into the game.”

The new bonds will have an annual debt of $380,000. The city of Amarillo, Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Sod Poodles will cover a percentage of the cost of facility updates and annual debt.

The approved issuance is not being paid for by property tax dollars.

“We have a pledge with the taxes that we collect when people stay in hotels here in the city of Amarillo, said Laura Storrs, Amarillo assistant city manager and chief financial officer. “We are not looking to pay for this debt issuance with property taxes. So, the only time an Amarillo citizen would be contributing to the payment of this debt for these improvements would be if they chose to stay at a local hotel here in the city of Amarillo.”

Both Storrs and Ensor emphasized Hodgetown is not and will not be paid for using property tax dollars. Storrs shared there are several ways the bond is being paid for.

“It is not being paid for with any property tax dollars, it is being paid for, from the lease agreement with the team, also from our Convention and Visitor’s Bureau is funding and then also from hotel occupancy taxes, stated Storrs. “The only way in Amarillo, a citizen is paying for that baseball stadium is whether they’re buying a sod poodle ticket and enjoying a game or if they’re staying in one of our local hotels. No property tax dollars are being used to pay for that facility, the existing one or any improvements on it.”

According to Storrs facility upgrades will begin at the end of the 2023 season.

Upgrades must be completed by the first pitch of the 2024 season. Ensor shared that scheduled events for the 2023 season will not be impacted by the renovations.

Storrs shared the importance of the City Council approving the ordinance and meeting the standards put in place by the MLB.

“We don’t want to do anything to jeopardize the ability to have an affiliated team right here in Amarillo,” said Storrs. “It’s a huge win for our community. It’s a great thing to attract tourists into our area and we love being the home of the sod poodles. We want to make sure that we’re supporting that and that we keep a great partnership, not only with the team, but with Major League Baseball to ensure the Sod Poodles stay right here in Amarillo, Texas.”

With approval from City Council, the documents will go to the attorney general’s office for approval. The deadline will close on April 27.

Ensor shared that having the support of the city is extremely important.

“We’re very blessed to have one of the most amazing cities in the country to play baseball, said Ensor. “We have the best fan base in the country and one of the top five top 10 facilities in the country as well. ‘Amarillians’, should be very proud of and what we’ve been able to accomplish here.”