City of Albuquerque looking at landing site options for balloonists
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- The City of Albuquerque created a Balloon Landing Task Force to help find space for balloonist as the city grows.
"If we want to make sure to keep seeing our culture thrive, especially coming off the heels of 2020, we want to make sure to do everything we can to leverage and grow and increase the participation and support we offer the ballooning community," said Albuquerque City Councilor Brook Bassan.
The Balloon Fiesta grounds are in Bassan’s district. She wants the council to start a serious conversation that could become expensive.
"We definitely have to spend money to make sure to return and get a return on the money," she said.
Balloon Fiesta generates more than $100 million dollars locally.
A report that looked at accommodating balloonist shows it would cost $70 million to buy and develop the 91 acres off Osuna, next to Vista del Norte.
"If it were to ever be purchased by the city and turned into a landing site, it would be multi-purposed into a sports field so that we can have more practices, and we can still use it year around," Bassan said.
The report also includes less expensive options, including an expansion of the "X Marks the Spot" campaign to help balloonists find more landing spots. Another option would be buying smaller lots and improving parking lots for landing zones.
Scott Appelman, president and CEO of Rainbow Ryders, said finding landing spots is important for Balloon Fiesta’s future.
"You need to have a place that’s inviting for the people to participate in the event because they want to come out and have fun, they don’t want to be stressed out on their flights," he said.
Appelman said the city needs landing options to the south..
"I think that the real question is, is the loss of the tax revenue and the economic impact of Balloon Fiesta, worth not investing in," he asked.