ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The City of Albuquerque has now confirmed that a United soccer stadium is being considered near Balloon Fiesta Park. However, city officials made it clear that this location for a stadium is just an idea. The city said it would never sell balloon fiesta land, but leasing it for a public-private partnership is another story.
Lawrence Rael, Albuquerque’s Chief Administrative Officer, said, “Obviously the more practical approach would be some sort of lease for the ground lease for the actual footprint of the facility and looking at how that would work as it relates to the project.”
According to the city, the land that would be used for the stadium would be the parking lot on the east side of the field. There is a power line that stops balloons from taking off that way anyway so there would be no impact on Balloon Fiesta launches.
While voters shot down paying for a new stadium in 2021, the city could use more than $8 million in funding from the state to help pave the way for the project, as well as an additional $5 million of state capital outlay money – if the governor signs off on it.
That money could go towards infrastructure like building storm drainage, electrical lines, plumbing and sewer pipes, or additional parking opportunities. But there are no contracts in the works yet. “This may not necessarily become a final selected location; we certainly feel like it’s a possibility that deserves detailed analysis,” explained Dave Simon, the Director of Albuquerque’s Parks and Recreation Department.
Tom Garrity, a spokesperson from the Balloon Fiesta says, “We’ve been made aware of some very preliminary conversations related to the City of Albuquerque’s interest in developing a partnership to build a multi-use sports complex. The area described by the city would impact existing parking by displacing approximately 800 guest’s cars per session.” He adds, “Balloon Fiesta is interested in learning more about the stadium plan and look forward to continued discussions with the city.”
While this site at Balloon Fiesta Park has become a viable option, the city says it needs to continue looking at how realistic the project is. According to officials, United has looked at other possible locations across Albuquerque like Mesa del Sol, near existing UNM sports facilities and some spots on the west side.
“Seeing the City of Albuquerque’s and the State of New Mexico’s commitment to improving Balloon Fiesta’s Park is inspiring,” said United Owner/CEO Peter Trevisani, following the city’s press conference. “Balloon Fiesta Park is one of the gems of our state, bringing in visitors from around the world to see New Mexico’s beauty. We’re excited to see it continue to grow and improve for year-round use by New Mexicans. We’re enthusiastic about what is coming next for New Mexico, and we look forward to being part of that growth. While this is an exciting first step, there is still a tremendous amount of work to do.”