Arguments take shape in NM United stadium proposal as its fate looms

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Opposing arguments for a New Mexico United soccer stadium are causing a lot of confusion for metro voters.

"I’m really excited for the new stadium,” Albuquerque resident Ardith Tom said, “I think there’s a lot of opportunity and growth that comes with it but there are a lot of concerns, and I’m still conflicted."

The decision ultimately falls into the public’s hands Tuesday, Nov. 2. NM United recently announced plans to contribute $30 million to the stadium, with $10 million paid upfront. Metro residents are voting on a $50 million bond from the city. That funding would be covered by taxpayers.

Some argue the money would be better spent on education, health care, fighting crime and homelessness in our city. Others worry the facility will drive up the cost of living in Barelas or South Broadway, the two primary locations the city is looking at for the stadium.

"We are fighting development that will push us out, and bring people with more money in," said Karina Rodgers with the Party for Socialism and Liberation.

The city agreed it will not sign a lease in any neighborhood until a Community Benefits Agreement is also signed.

"The Community Benefits Agreement is a legally binding document that we are putting together with the help of the community, to both protect ourselves from having things put in the community that we don’t want and then, also to imagine, what would we like to have,” Lisa Padilla, the president of the Barelas Neighborhood Association, said.

The city’s Chief Operations Officer Lawrence Rael spoke with KOB 4 about the city’s partnership with downtown community leaders, as well as the potential benefits of a stadium.

"For them, it is about more than just building a soccer facility, but also about investing in the community, creating jobs, creating economic vitality, putting in new infrastructure, and really getting an opportunity to have some of the newer amenities that some of our new developments have,” Rael said.

Community members have questioned the quality of the new jobs the stadium would provide and whether they would be permanent, well-paying and would include benefits.

The Nov. 1 ‘Stop the Stadium’ rally is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. in Joseph J. Baca Plaza, at 4th St. SW and Barelas Road SW.