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Mayor Keller Sends Major Sports-Related Tourism Infrastructure Package to Council

Softball, soccer, track, baseball tournament fields, and convention center infrastructure projects build on lessons from City’s Senior Games; funded by proceeds realized from refinancing existing Lodger’s Tax bonds.

September 8, 2019

On Friday, Mayor Tim Keller sent a package of proposed infrastructure investments to the City Council to grow the tourism and convention industry. The initiative supports local businesses who depend on tourism to make their living and create local jobs. The package would not increase local taxes, drawing its funding from the proceeds from refinancing existing Lodger’s Tax bonds, which are required to be focused on tourism.

Included in the package are six projects that target locations or increase capacity to host major events and large numbers of visitors, with a specific focus on growing sports-related tourism. Projects include transforming Los Altos into a Softball tournament complex, a professional soccer field to bring back high school championships and provide professional team practice space, a new indoor professional track to keep the NCAA indoor track and field championships, additional fields to enable more baseball tournaments.

“The National Senior Games were a huge success with an estimated $34 million local impact, so we are seizing the opportunity to grow sports-related tourism,” said Mayor Tim Keller. “With our climate, our local love of sports and the outdoors, and a proven track-record of success, we are a few strategic investments away from making Albuquerque a top regional destination for sporting tournaments and events.”

The proposal includes:

$2.5 million to replace the City’s 16-year-old indoor track. A new track maintains Albuquerque’s prominent role as a national destination for indoor track competitions and reputation as a center of training for elite athletes. The track is a partnership with the University of New Mexico Track & Field Program. 

$3 million to build a multi-use soccer facility to host New Mexico Activities Association championships as well as tournaments which draw thousands of athletes and their families to competitions. The project would also be able to house practices for Albuquerque’s popular professional soccer team, New Mexico United.

$10.5 million to rebuild the 50-year-old Los Altos Park, which is still the busiest park facility in the City. The upgrades will increase capacity to host regional softball tournaments, such as the 14 tournaments that came to Albuquerque in 2019 alone, that attract thousands of visitors. Funding would also enhance Albuquerque’s role as a leader in the new Olympic sport of BMX, adding a pump track, which along with our existing dirt track will continue attracting national events.

$2 million to connect Downtown, EDO (east downtown) and the Innovation District with a multi-use trail, tying together the Convention Center, current hotels, and future development for residents, students, and visitors with a safe, fun way to access downtown, civic plaza and the Convention Center.

$3 million to upgrade 25-year old Convention Center infrastructure and add outdoor message boards that better serve the public, large meetings, and special events, and evaluate the potential of Kiva Auditorium to host a larger range of events.

$1 million to upgrade Isotopes Park, a center of sports activity for both soccer and baseball. Nets will protect young children and families during games and field improvements to provide for an easier transition from baseball to other uses, including other sports like soccer as well as concerts.

$2.5 million to support the long-term success and sustainability of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta by preserving open space landing sites for balloons. As the city grows, suitable landing space is shrinking.

$3.5 million to expand the Westside Baseball Sports Facility Complex to support larger and more frequent regional baseball tournaments and providing more recreation opportunities for families on the Westside.

The refinancing of Lodger’s Tax Bonds requires a vote of the City Council to move forward.

“This will enable the City to build on the success we’ve already seen in the area of sports tourism,” added Mayor Keller. “We look forward to Council support in moving this vital opportunity for Albuquerque.”