Barelas community leaders meet on proposed United stadium

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Another day, another community meeting about the bond proposal for the new soccer stadium. But Sunday afternoon’s meeting with Barelas neighborhood leaders was different — this one didn’t include a specific stance on the project.

Sunday’s meeting had a lot to do with making an informed decision. Voters have just over two weeks to decide if they want to see a new soccer stadium in Albuquerque, and these community leaders hope you consider everything it could mean for the neighborhood it could take over.

Dorothy Chavez has lived in the Barelas neighborhood her entire life.

"We know what we need to do. We’ve done it for a long time,” said Dorothy Chavez, vice president of Barelas Neighborhood Association.

She’s speaking as a resident, but also as the vice president of the Barelas Neighborhood Association. She said she wants people to make an informed decision about the stadium bond proposal that could change the neighborhood’s landscape.

"Not on hearsay, not on other people coming into our community telling us that we should be doing this because that’s happened for generations. And frankly, people get tired of being told what we need to do,” said Chavez.

She and other residents like Joaquin Baca with the Downtown Albuquerque Neighborhood Association said they take issue with outside groups who have been pushing their own agendas in the area.

"When all of this is over, are they still gonna be here to help our struggling businesses? Are they gonna help with the homelessness? Are they gonna help with the crime? Are they gonna do any of that or are they just gonna take off?" said Baca.

Leaders said they’ve been working to earn support from the city and New Mexico United. They secured a community benefits agreement, where it outlines ways the city and team would address leading issues in the stadium’s community, through amenities and services. Those could include a healthcare facility, childcare options, affordable housing, among other things.

"It’s a huge accomplishment for this neighborhood. It’s a huge accomplishment for any neighborhood in the state, quite frankly for most neighborhoods in the country,” said Rep. Javier Martinez.

Martinez has represented the Barelas neighborhood since 2015.

"Regardless of what happens on Election Day, this neighborhood is a model for how communities need to come together to ensure developers and politicians come and sit at their table,” said Martinez.

They might be sitting there, but leaders said there’s a lot of work to be done.

"To finance a stadium is unprecedented. We are making history. This is definitely not business as usual,” said Chavez.

Mayor Tim Keller signed the resolution that requires the community benefits agreement earlier this month. The agreement will apply to whichever neighborhood the city chooses for the stadium, and this is all if the bond proposal passes on Nov. 2.