New Mexico United stadium proposal faces backlash from neighbors

New Mexico United stadium proposal faces backlash from neighbors

There is still no end in sight for New Mexico United's long journey to find a home for its own stadium.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — There is still no end in sight for New Mexico United’s long journey to find a home for its own stadium.

In 2021, voters shot down a proposed site downtown. City councilors approved a lease in November for the team to build the stadium at Balloon Fiesta Park, but it’s not a sure thing yet.

Dozens of neighbors are fighting the approval, citing many potential negative impacts to their nearby neighborhoods. They’re preparing now for the next step in the appeal process later this month.

“I don’t think it adds up in the heads of anyone who really understands what’s going on,” said Brooke Jordy, who lives in the North Edith Corridor neighborhood just west of Balloon Fiesta Park.

Jordy and her husband moved to the area for a reason.

“We chose it because of that more rural feeling, because of the generational homes, the quiet, and kind of amenities that come with that,” she said.

Those amenities do not include a soccer stadium for 10,000 people. Jordy is one of almost 70 appellants – including four neighborhood associations – appealing the Environmental Planning Commission’s approval of United’s plan to build a stadium in the park.

“We will not only be impacted by all of that noise pollution, we will also be impacted by light pollution, by traffic which will create emissions pollution, potential water pollution because this park borders the North Diversion Channel, which carries all of Albuquerque’s runoff water to the Rio Grande,” Jordy said.

The neighbors also have concerns about protected wildlife in the nearby bosque.

“We are not opposed to a stadium being built, we are not opposed to soccer,” Jordy said. “We are opposed o the disruption and disingenuous nature that consensus planning and New Mexico United have taken in building a stadium in Balloon Fiesta Park.”

Jordy and her neighbors have already been through one commission hearing and a hearing with a land use officer. That officer kicked the case back to the EPC because of a clerical error.

The process is scheduled to restart later this month.

“If the EPC chooses to deny our requests and over our strong objections approves the plan, we intend to appeal to a land use officer once again,” Jordy said. “We are willing to continue to fight this as long as it needs to be fought in order to protect our land, our environment, and taxpayer funds.”

Jordy brought up concerns about taxpayer money going toward this project after leaders said multiple times it wouldn’t cost New Mexicans a dime. The state just allocated $15.5 million for improvements to Balloon Fiesta Park in the budget the governor just signed. That’s on top of almost $18 million already allocated before councilors approved the lease.

However, reps with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department told KOB 4 that none of that money would be used for construction. They said all of the funds will be spent to improve the park, regardless of whether the stadium is built. It will reportedly go toward things like water and sewer upgrades, or road and parking lot improvements.

Reps with New Mexico United said they have made new design improvements in recent months. Officials with the mayor’s office said the public process is essential to ensuring projects like these benefit the community.

Full statement from David Wiese-Carl with New Mexico United:

“New Mexico United recommended restarting the EPC process following a clerical error to make sure that everyone has a voice in this process. During the three months since we have made additional improvements to a design that was already approved. We are grateful to the city, and to neighbors for working with us to create an asset that will benefit the entire community.”

Statement from Ava Montoya, representative with Mayor Tim Keller’s office:

“The public process is essential to ensuring large projects like these benefit our community and work for our families, and we believe in investing in the future of our city by creating more opportunities for affordable fun and entertainment.”