(The Center Square) – The Albuquerque City Council postponed a vote on a stadium deal on Monday.
Five city councilors voted to postpone voting on a lease agreement to let New Mexico United build a soccer stadium on a seven-acre lot in Balloon Fiesta Park.
New Mexico United Owner Peter Trevisani expressed disappointment with the decision and said the project was “kicked down the road,” according to The Albuquerque Journal.
“Yes, we are a soccer team, and yes it’s a stadium,” Trevisani told the newspaper. “But the stadium isn’t just a place to gather … It is 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 stadium construction. It has committed at least $30 million to pay for the stadium.
However, as a part of the deal, the city would make infrastructure upgrades using state funds. It has up to $13.5 million in state funds available to make such upgrades, according to the report.
Critics of the plan at the city council meeting on Monday called the $35,000 per year lease plus a 10% cut of parking revenue for the city a “sweetheart deal” for the team, the report said. The critics argued that taxpayers should not subsidize the stadium, even indirectly.
Stace Drangmeister, a spokesperson for the city, told The Albuquerque Journal that the city will make infrastructure upgrades around Balloon Fiesta Park regardless of whether or not the soccer team builds a stadium.
Steve Wentworth, president of the Alameda North Valley Association, supports such infrastructure upgrades and said they will benefit the entire park, not just a professional soccer team.
“(The Park) is not underutilized in the season when people can use it,” Wentworth told The Albuquerque Journal. “It’s very well utilized, and people just don’t know that.”
Additionally, the city’s Balloon Fiesta Commission has not yet voted on the proposed lease agreement, and a lack of transparency exists surrounding the commission.
It has not published an agenda online since July 2020, its list of current members is not available online, and the commission failed to get a quorum the last time it attempted to meet to have a vote on the lease agreement.