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Citizen committee presents recommendation on future of Civic Center to Amarillo City Council

The five-member citizen executive committee presented a recommendation Tuesday to Amarillo City Council regarding the future of the Amarillo Civic Center.

The citizen executive committee was appointed by Amarillo City Council in 2018. The committee consists of Jennifer Gallardo, Mike Hughes, David Lovejoy, Rod Schroder and Julie Sims. Below is a letter to the community concerning the official committee recommendation:

In late 2018, the Amarillo City Council appointed a five-member citizen executive committee charged with gathering information and embarking on a fact-finding mission to form the framework for the Civic Center’s future. Our purpose was to bring a citizen’s voice to the deliberations.

The committee would like to thank the Mayor and City Council for the opportunity to work on this project. Also, we would like to express to the Council what an exceptional job City Manager, Jared Miller, and his management team did in assisting the committee with this project over the last year. They were organized, well prepared and extremely knowledgeable on the subject.

We were not chosen to provide a “yes” response automatically to any proposals placed in front of us. We were given total authority throughout the process in order for us to reach our decision. We were to test ideas and concepts to find the best value for the city. Each of us felt free to challenge each idea and disagree if necessary. In fact, at several points during our work we asked sta and consultants to provide us with other alternatives.

At our request, the City brought together a host of the best experts in the business to assist us. To name a few, Populous is a well-known global design group who works with communities to design facilities that bring people together. They have completed over 3,000 projects around the world, most notably the London 2012 Olympic Stadium, Baylor University McLane Stadium, multiple Super Bowl locations and our own Hodgetown. 

The local architectural firm Dekker/Perich/Sabatini, a 60-year old firm that is ranked as an ENR (Engineering News-Record) Top 500 design firm provided leadership and team coordination. HVS out of Chicago has over fifty offces around the world and has been involved in such projects at the Toyota Field in San Antonio, Madison Square Garden in NYC, Music City in Nashville and the Oklahoma Convention Center. 

This team of experts responded to committee requests to look at a number of alternatives and ultimately assisted us in settling on the recommendations we present to you.

Without question, our consultants were top of the line. Our work was conducted with an overarching awareness of the potential taxpayer cost of this project. We know the Panhandle people are frugal and they want their tax dollars spent e ciently and e ectively. But we also know they are generous, will support increases in taxes if the purpose is reasonable and needed, and do not settle for just the status quo.

After more than a year of diligent study, consideration and discussion, today the committee is recommending the following major actions that will address the considerable deficiencies with the existing Civic Center and provide the City of Amarillo with a stronger downtown economic engine that is projected to provide new jobs and a positive and significant economic impact for its citizens:

1. Build a new 75,600 SF contiguous exhibit space

2. Build a new state of the art arena that will seat up to 10,100

3. Create a new and larger ballroom

4. Create new areas for pre-convention gatherings

5. Build a new commercial food-service kitchen

6. Renovate the historic Santa Fe building so it can be actively marketed as part of the amenities
offered to Civic Center leasees and patrons

7. Create an expanded outdoor central plaza for community gatherings and pre-event activities

After significant time and study of the data and the options, the committee stands convinced and we are recommending this proposal as the best course of action for our city. If a bond election is proposed, we, as a committee, enthusiastically encourage the majority of voters to join with us in a “yes” vote for the future welfare of our citizens and Amarillo. 

No vote was taken Tuesday regarding the proposal for the Amarillo Civic Center.

Here is the timeline regarding the Amarillo Civic Center recommendation:

Jan. 21: Citizen executive committee presents final recommendation to Amarillo City Council.

Jan. 28: Public comment to Amarillo City Council.

Feb. 11: Public comment and council vote on committee recommendation.

May 2: Election Day – if proposal is approved by Amarillo City Council on Feb. 11.

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