(The Center Square) – The Albuquerque City Council on Monday postponed a vote on a stadium deal.
Five city councilors voted to postpone a vote on a lease agreement allowing New Mexico United to build a soccer stadium on a seven-acre plot of land in Balloon Fiesta Park.
New Mexico United owner Peter Trevisani expressed disappointment with the decision and said the project was “pushed back,” according to The Albuquerque Journal.
“Yes, we are a football team, and yes, it is a stadium”, Trevisani said the newspaper. “But the stadium is not just a gathering place…It’s a statement that we’re not trying to build the next Boulder, or the next Austin, or the next any other city. We’re just collectively trying to build the next best version of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Under the proposed plan, the team would privately finance construction of the stadium. He has committed at least $30 million to finance the stadium.
However, as part of the deal, the city would carry out infrastructure upgrades using state funds. According to the report, the state has $13.5 million in state funds to make such improvements.
Critics of the project at Monday’s city council meeting called the $35,000-a-year lease plus a 10 percent cut of parking revenue for the city a “sweetheart deal” for the team, according to the report . Critics have argued that taxpayers should not subsidize the stadium, even indirectly.
Stace Drangmeister, a city spokesperson, said The Albuquerque Journal that the city will improve infrastructure around Balloon Fiesta Park whether or not the football team builds a stadium.
Steve Wentworth, president of the Alameda North Valley Association, supports such infrastructure improvements and said they would benefit the entire park, not just a professional football team.
“(The park) is not underutilized during the season when people can use it,” Wentworth said. The Albuquerque Journal. “It’s very well used, and people just don’t know about it.”
Additionally, the city’s Balloon Fiesta Commission has yet to vote on the proposed lease agreement, and there is a lack of transparency around the commission.
It has not posted an agenda online since July 2020, its list of current members is not available online, and the commission failed to achieve quorum the last time it tried to meet to vote on the rental contract.