Sunday, May 3, 2009

Group: Put Arena on Ballot

By Dan McKay
Copyright © 2009 Albuquerque Journal 5/3/2009
Journal Staff Writer

(Excerpts) A group pushing for a $400 million Downtown event center and hotel wants the city to get off the dime and put a tax proposal to fund the project on the ballot sooner rather than later.
It appears they have an uphill fight.

Undeterred, Steve Wedeen is leading a group of marketing, advertising and other professionals pushing for a project they say would boost tourism and lure business to the Convention Center.
"The impact is phenomenal," Wedeen said in a recent interview. "This is really an economic-stimulus package that invests in a smart, sound industry."

The city, the development team and others launched a viability assessment that was largely favorable. However, much of the evaluation came before or as the national economy was tightening last year

That hasn't deterred supporters, who say the lean market has driven down the cost of materials and labor. They argue the city might be able to build the project at a discount and be positioned to draw convention business and other activity as the economy rebounds.

Read story

My take: After riding a packed Rail Runner yesterday (Saturday) to an equally packed and vibrant Santa Fe Depot/Railyards (farmer's market, REI, new Flying Star, art galleries, superb kid friendly park), Albuquerque needs this forward thinking project to create an equally inviting, vibrant space (and economic engine). Like the Santa Fe Railyard project, this is an investment in the future. Until this happens, I fear the crowded trains (along with tourist/entertainment dollars) will mostly be running north. I'd much prefer to see crowded trains running both directions, especially on the weekends.

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