Albuquerque takes next step toward new soccer stadium study

Local News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The city of Albuquerque is gearing up its effort to figure out where to build a future 10,000 to 15,000 seat stadium for the New Mexico United soccer team. That potential stadium could also come with a lot of additional development next to it.

Mayor Tim Keller’s administration announced Friday it’s recommending a firm called the “Creative Arts Agency Icon” (CAAICON) to do a feasibility study for a proposed future multi-purpose soccer stadium. If Albuquerque City Council grants approval and the city successfully negotiates a contract with the firm, the study would likely be completed in early 2021.

The announcement comes more than a month after the city initially requested private firms to bid for work. The city hopes the feasibility study once and for all takes the guess work out of where to build the long-hyped venue.

“What I really want is a good answer, meaning here’s how much it will cost, here’s the available land, here’s how traffic could work, because we also know that if it is near a neighborhood or it is near businesses, they have an important role too,” Mayor Keller said at a news conference Friday. “Right now, everyone’s just discussing hypotheticals.”

The latest expected study will actually represent the second round of soccer stadium feasibility work the city’s paid for in the last four years. This time, the city is specifically eyeing analysis for a potential 10,500 to 15,000 seat multi-purpose venue with an added cultural center component, even possible retail or housing space.

During the 2020 legislative session, New Mexico lawmakers gave the city $4 million to do this study and buy land for the stadium. The projected cost of the feasibility study is unclear, as the city hasn’t yet negotiated a contract with the firm the Mayor’s Office is recommending do the work.

There’s also no clear estimate on how much any kind of soccer stadium could cost, or how government and the United could split the cost of its construction. In the past, state lawmakers have discussed the project as a possible public-private partnership.

“There’s no better thing that a government can do in tough economic times than build things, you know, roads, bridges, sewer,” said Representative Moe Maestas, a Democrat from Albuquerque. “I see this as similar in terms of being a public good.”

In an interview with KRQE News 13, a spokesman for New Mexico United expressed excitement for the next step. The franchise says it still envisions the project as a potential public-private partnership.

“I think it’s important that it’s a partnership for all of us,” said David Carl, spokesman for New Mexico United. “Something that makes sense for the city, for the city government, something that makes sense for the state, something the makes sense for New Mexico United, and most importantly, something that makes sense for fans.”

When asked which location he would prefer, Mayor Tim Keller said Friday he wants to see a stadium built near the area of the Big-I, to include locations like downtown, the Railyards or along vacant land on Lomas.

Another western city, Sacramento is looking at using a soccer stadium to breathe new life into its rundown railyards near downtown. The Sacramento Republic soccer franchise is building a $250 million, 21,000-seat stadium to revitalize its railyard district. The current USL franchise is slated to move up to Major League Soccer in 2023. Club ownership is paying for most of the bill for the stadium development, which will also include condos, a hotel, shops, restaurants, plazas, and a park.

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