and, what about that Events Center?

It may be very, very important... or not, but are you tired of sounding off about city police enforcing immigration policy - and the related fallout? Well here is an opportunity to sound off to the Mayor about something else.

Currently, on the home page of the city web site www.cabq.gov You can click a link and leave Mayor Berry a comment about an oft-proposed "Events Center" in the Downtown area.

Below is are my comments to the Mayor in response to the posted question:

What are your thoughts about a Downtown Events Center?

I think many cities have overbuilt their "convention capacity" and it would be a shame to demolish established neighborhoods and buildings and spend billions to compete with a ship who's time has passed. With advances in technology and increasing costs of transportation massive conventions may soon be a thing of the past!

If we (ABQ) do develop an "events center" it should be a center for arts and science, I say agricultural science, at a re-build/re-developed Railyards complex. It should be integrative with low to moderate income owner-occupied housing; have large and small spaces for purchase, rent and/or lease to non-profit organizations as well as for-profit grocers, retail, and entertainment venues; and it should include some kind of urban agricultural demonstration project plot or greenhouse(working and selling the product) - for instance growing specialty veggies and herbs for Downtown restaurants - or experimenting with plants for medicinal purpose's working with UNM health sciences, or... possabilites are endless.

Albuquerque has always been "different." Let's keep being different, but in an economically sustainable way.


Now, What's your idea for the Mayor? Go to www.cabq.gov/mayor/downtown-events-center to submit YOUR comments to our Fair Mayor.

Have fun!

Views: 7

Tags: Barelas, Berry, Center, Convention, Downtown, Events, Mayor, Opportunity, Rail, Redevelopment, More…Yards

Comment by urbanABQ on May 20, 2010 at 7:08pm
Someone asked for examples and I provided two: Van Andel and Quest Center. These are two models that have worked in similar sized metropolitan areas. If you do more research into the other arenas you'll see that, like I stated before, they were similarly sized cities building larger-scale arenas or suburbs competing in larger markets.

Hettie - one word: scale

Shotsie, your idea of student and professional housing is the best alternative I have read so far. I doubt a developer could make that happen at this location, however, given land values. It'd likely have to be highly subsidized and/or pretty darn tall.
However, I'm shocked and appalled by your recommendation of retaining the giant wall around the fairgrounds while developing civic structures throughout the EXPO grounds. That wall is horrendous and needs to come down for so many reasons I just don't have time to type them all up. UNM recently had a studio regarding this site which resulted in pretty interesting concepts. Also, remodeling Tingley would likely be more expensive than building a new one. This is why we need to get it right the first time which we seem to have a hard time doing in this city. (see: Isotopes Park in which we were sold a "cheaper" remodel option)

No one is saying that the downtown arena is the panacea to downtown revitalization. It takes many different kinds of investments and an arena would just be another catalyst which in our case aids in our convention capacity and entertainment options (in an easily accessible location).

RiRiSynCyr: Downtown has the space, it just needs the population before retail happens.

I'm following RiRiSynCyr's lead: Looking forward to green chile in t-minus 3 weeks.
/soapbox
Comment by shotsie on May 20, 2010 at 8:38pm
RamonT: I don't have a problem with developers who use THEIR money for projects. The tying together of a hotel to a civic center has lots of hidden costs that were never disclosed. Why aren't there a variety of proposals for the general public to vet? It's just strange timing for Berry to want public comment on the original proposal, since we are reeling from a steep recession. The project needs to be scaled down, if done at all.

UrbanABQ: Isotopes Stadium was completed on time and under budget for half of what the same stadium would have cost downtown. It's (I believe) the 2nd most attended AAA stadium - the only people who would have benefited from the downtown site are those God-awful parking lot owners who gouge people for parking for any event without providing any security. Unfortunately, the wall around the fairgrounds is necessary to keep transients (and hookers and johns!) out of events - it does adds to public safety. It's a trade-off that's required for the 'hood.
Comment by ABQDWELL on May 20, 2010 at 9:26pm
Shotsie: You write: "the only people who would have benefited from the downtown site are those God-awful parking lot owners who gouge people for parking for any event without providing any security."

Really, you don't think the myriad of restaurants, bars, and hotels downtown wouldn't have benefitted? Do you enjoy being searched for food when you enter Isotopes Stadium (which has happened to me twice, at first I thought it was a security deal. God forbid you don't buy their food). What about reduced traffic and pollution by the folks who would have taken Rail Runner or Rapid Ride? What about less intoxicated drivers on the road?

Solution: All those folks against the Events Center, don't go, even if your favorite band finally comes to ABQ because it now has a 10,000+ seat indoor arena. All those folks that don't like a downtown stadium, drive out to Rio Rancho or the Fairgrounds for whatever events they can piece together. You can have the pleasure of driving in a car, parking a car and eating arena food. Don't drink too much, though because your only option home is to drive. And please stop with the "I don't want my hard earned money going to this project." It's estimated it will cost the price of two pizzas a year to fund the Events Center. I suspect this is a hell of lot less than the amount of my taxes that go to projects I don't support.
Comment by shotsie on May 20, 2010 at 9:54pm
The Fairgrounds is what, maybe three miles away from downtown on Central - there's some pretty tasty soul food and world food pretty close by. I estimate the cost to be half a pizza a year - more to spend on Giovanni's!!!
Comment by hettie on May 20, 2010 at 9:56pm
okay, I'm past my personally imposed limit for a single thread, so this is the last one for me.

"Someone asked for examples and I provided two: Van Andel and Quest Center. These are two models that have worked in similar sized metropolitan areas. If you do more research into the other arenas you'll see that, like I stated before, they were similarly sized cities building larger-scale arenas or suburbs competing in larger markets."

you've cited two "successful" examples without describing how they qualify as successful. if you take a look at the many arenas that were listed as comparable projects to the one being considered for abq, how many of them are "successful" and how many of them are publicly funded, vastly underused facilities. with regard to your two examples, what were those downtown areas like prior to the building of arenas? are there local venues in those areas like the journal center or the casinos that also provide places for concerts and the like? looking at van andel, they have a packed schedule for the next year, including two events in the month of june and two events in july! the qwest center is actually quite busy in may, with only 9 days that have no event, but they have roughly a dozen events scheduled for each month the rest of the summer, leaving the venue underused. this is essentially my point: these kind of "event centers" only work when there are events (see the logic there). there are other kinds of development that provide more consistent benefit to the local community and go a lot further towards creating a sense of place.

furthermore, van andel arena and the adjacent devos developments are the result of enormous sums of money from wealthy private benefactors and have still required many more dollars from state and public sources. this article makes the point that downtown omaha is the success that it is as a result of extensive and ongoing private investment in the city. and that's not something that anyone can write into a city plan.

as for your comment that people who don't want an arena shouldn't go there, that's just absurd. many of us already visit downtown or live there and we see it as a vital piece in the success of albuquerque as a quality place to live. we're already invested in the place and building an arena/event center there has the potential to take the success of the downtown in another direction. there are smarter ways to create long term development plans for urban areas than giving over a core piece of land to a use that's actually got a pretty low possibility of success (you've got two positive examples, remember?). so, where's your evidence that flocks of residents and visitors are just dying for a place to see the jonas brothers in downtown abq?

"even if your favorite band finally comes to ABQ because it now has a 10,000+ seat indoor arena."

um, unless you're interested in seeing justin bieber, brooks & dunn or american idol live!, you might be disappointed. I suggest you check out the scheduled events at arenas of comparable size in comparable cities before you crow about all the opportunities abq's cultural scene is missing out on. besides, brooks & dunn always go to the journal center anyway.
Comment by Crosley on May 20, 2010 at 10:14pm
"Solution: All those folks against the Events Center, don't go, even if your favorite band finally comes to ABQ because it now has a 10,000+ seat indoor arena."

U2 won't play 10,000 seats, that's too small for them. Same with Lady Gaga, Bon Jovi, and a whole lot of the other "top acts" touring right now. It's a simple mathematical equation - the band gets a certain amount of money to play, the ticket cost has to cover that amount, so the fewer seats there are, the higher the ticket prices have to be, or else someone loses money. U2 is not going to come here and make less money than they'd make going to Phoenix because they want to show Albuquerque the love. No offense, but I don't think you know the business well enough to be making these kinds of statements. I am not any kind of expert but frankly, I have not seen a lot of solid argumentation or answers to any of the hard questions from the people who are proponents of an arena - just more of the "oh, but it would be so great" pie-in-the-sky rhetoric. You guys need to tighten up your logic and come up with better answers to questions like the ones hettie has asked, if you want to be taken seriously.
Comment by urbanABQ on May 20, 2010 at 10:51pm
This is like crack, I can't...help...read...and...respond...

Shotsie: If I'm not mistaken the lots at UNM are no longer free for Topes game, no? This is actually a question. Regardless, free parking isn't free. Your tax dollars pay to maintain the lots and the roads people drive on to get there. People drive, give their money to the highest bidding concessions companies, and go home in their cars. Ideal? The downtown stadium would have been slightly more costly and would have had greater residual effects on the surrounding area.

Also, walls are evil, there are better solutions to the EXPO's big beautiful wall. End of story.

Hettie: We have different measurements of success. If I claimed that attendance would cover costs to pay off the loans you'd say it didn't hold enough events. What will make you happy? 15 events minimum? Perhaps look again at their calendars during fall/winter sports when indoor events occur? Hard Rock Pavilion or whatever it is now only gives us a few months of events per year. Many larger shows occur in the colder months. You're probably right, your favorite band, the Jonas Brothers, probably won't play here at the height of their popularity, but at least you'd have a place for them to come after they'd peaked.

Regarding place-making, I'd argue that bringing 250,000 (i'm being VERY conservative) downtown annually has a pretty large affect on a place. Placing this arena against the railroad tracks and wrapping it with 24/7 uses (residential/retail) is about as good as it gets. The commercial and hotel do exactly what you're asking for, right? Destinations and 550 additional hotel rooms (i'm implying patrons here) are part of this "place-making" concept you speak of.

Regarding Omaha and Grand Rapids, yes, lots of investment was made privately - particularly AFTER the city invested in things like their waterfronts and arenas. I said this word before: catalysts. How much have these cities invested in their downtowns? Lets compare that to ABQ.

Seriously, it's been fun but we're going in circles. We all just want what's best for our beloved city. Though I may not be doing so right now, I have and am willing to invest my hard earned tax dollars in things like arenas and boondoggle mass transit and affordable housing and .... civic pride is worth a whole pizza to me
Comment by ABQDWELL on May 21, 2010 at 7:02am
I just heard the new estimate for the annual cost of the Events Center per person is now two pizzas PLUS toppings. Outrageous! Boondoggle. Pizza pie in the sky dreaming... Thanks UrbanABQ for providing levity and facts, particularly: "lots of private investment occurred AFTER the city invested in things like waterfronts and arenas. And Crosley, you are so right. We should scrap the whole thing since U2 would never play the Events Center.
Comment by Hunter on May 21, 2010 at 8:24am
ABQDWELL said "What about less intoxicated drivers on the road?"

I'm sorry, but this is a deal killer for me. I've heard the same argument before, with Mayor Chavez's Tipsy Trolley scheme. The taxpayers are supposed to fund multi-million dollar public transit systems to provide alternative transportation for drunks? The perfect end to a wonderful arena experience, riding home on the RailRunner or Modern Streetcar with a bunch of drunks! How about no alcohol sales at the arena instead of enabling over consumption?
Comment by ABQDWELL on May 21, 2010 at 8:30am
Hunter, you are so right! So much better to take our chances on the road! Not sure anyone's pushing this as the central reason, just one of many ancillary benefits.

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