Amarillo LGC approves MPEV agreement with Elmore Sports Group

27 June 2017

Construction on the downtown multipurpose event venue is slated to begin in early January. The Amarillo Local Government Corp., the group tasked with overseeing downtown catalyst projects for the city, approved a letter of agreements with Elmore Sports Group to lease the facility at its meeting on Monday.

Deputy City Manager Bob Cowell said D.G. Elmore, group chairman of the sports group, signed the agreement last week.

The agreement allows the city to move forward with paying for design plans by ensuring the club will cover any costs incurred should the two parties fail to agree on contract terms for the lease agreement, which includes the construction and use of the stadium.

The contract also specifies that the stadium should be up and running by April 2019, which gives the city less than two years to design and construct the $45.5 million facility.

The board hit the pause button on moving forward on design specs for the baseball stadium last summer when the owners of the San Antonio Missions declined to sign the agreement. Cowell called the timeline tight but doable.

He said the city is already looking for ways to accelerate construction and will immediately begin to tackle miscellaneous projects around the site, such as reconstruction work on Seventh and Eighth avenues to relocate a storm sewer and a water line.

“There’s not a lot left to do but we want to make sure those pieces are done before January rolls around,” he said. Cowell said the underground construction work will begin shortly and should take a couple months to complete.

The LGC approved another measure to help expedite the process. The city will issue a request for proposals to hire a construction manager to assist with completing the design of the facility. How much that will cost wasn’t determined at Monday’s meeting. The local construction manager will assist Populous, a global architecture firm commissioned to design the venue.

Cowell said the local construction manager will work side-by-side with the architecture firm to provide input that can help expedite the permitting process and materials. For example, Cowell said the local contractor will have insight on how to get materials delivered faster and cheaper than the out-of-town firm.

Populous was mutually selected by the city and Elmore Sports Group to design the facility because they specialize in sports design, Cowell said. The firm had designed several facilities ranging from convention centers to arenas and ballparks. They worked on Marlin Park in Miami, Petco Park in San Diego and Yankee Stadium in New York.

The firm has also designed several Double-A ballparks, such as Security Bank Ballpark in Midland, ONEOK Field in Tulsa, Okla., and Montgomery Riverwalk Stadium in Montgomery, Ala.

“We pride ourselves on not doing a single ballpark like the other,” senior architect David Bower said about the firm’s plans for Amarillo.

During the design phase, he said they will be asking, “What can we do here in Amarillo that will make your ballpark special, when you turn on the TV people should say, that’s Amarillo.”

Populous will be paid $2.6 million to design the stadium, according to the contract.

The cost, Cowell said, will not come out of bond revenue but instead from a $8 million reserve fund the city has accumulated from hotel occupancy tax dollars over the years. Cowell said the city plans to take out the bond debt to build the MPEV toward the end of the year.

Letter of Agreement details

The ball club will pay an annual guaranteed rental sum of $400,000, made in three equal installments in April, July and October. Out of the annual rent, $225,000 will be placed in a separate account for future capital repair and replacement services.

The ball club will have the right to select the name of the stadium, as well as naming rights.

The city will have the right to use the stadium for 12 non-commercial events per calendar year. The ball club will have exclusive use of the stadium for all other dates.

Should the city and Elmore Sports Group fail to enter into an official contract, the ball club will reimburse the city or the LGC for costs incurred to design the facility up to $100,000.

The stadium should be open for use by April 1, 2019 (Feb. 1, 2019, for the ball club’s initial access).

The proposed budget for the downtown stadium is $45.54 million. In no event will the city be required to expend more than the proposed amount to complete the project. If the ball club desires additions or modifications that would exceed the proposed budget, it will pay the balance.

The city’s contribution toward the project costs will be financed by hotel occupancy taxes and a portion of the rent paid by the ball club for the use of the stadium.

The ball club is expected to enter into a long-term lease with the city through 2048, but has the option to terminate the lease following the end of the club’s 2038 season if the parties are unable to agree on a renovation plan to keep the stadium comparable to other facilities. If the city and the ball club agree on renovations, the lease term will be extended through the 2058 season with a mutually agreeable annual rent for the remainder of the lease term.

The ball club will enter into an appropriate non-relocation agreement in order to provide an enforceable prohibition against the relocation of the franchise during the lease and requiring the club to play all home games at the stadium.

The city will provide the ball club with 1,000 surface parking spaces within 1,500 feet of the exterior of the stadium footprint.

The ball club will retain 100 percent of its event, concessions, merchandise, tickets, club seats, suites and advertising and any other event or game revenues.