Amarillo businessmen Alex Fairly and Jerry Hodge unveiled their proposal on Thursday for a new Amarillo Civic Center bond election, after the defeat of a larger bond package just last month

Fairly and Hodge’s plan, dubbed “The Amarillo Plan” in a media release, was accompanied by new billboards in Amarillo featuring the phrase “Let Amarillo Decide.” The plan calls for the construction of a new 6,500-seat arena that could be used to host rodeo events, concerts, and other sporting events. Fairly and Hodge also announced they have secured a letter of commitment from Elmore Sports Group chairman D.G. Elmore to bring a AA-affiliate hockey team to play in the new arena as an anchor tenant, if constructed.

In addition to completion of the new arena, the smaller 4,870-seat arena that currently exists inside of the Amarillo Civic Center Complex would be renovated to double as both a smaller concert venue and an exhibition space for conventions.

Under the plan, taxpayers would face a principal bond amount of $110 million. This would equate to about a 16 percent tax increase on municipal taxpayers in Amarillo.

According to Fairly and Hodge’s proposal, the Amarillo City Council is being asked to place this proposed bond on the May 2021 ballot. Voters in Amarillo recently defeated a $275 million bond for the civic center in November, which would have included the construction of a new arena. 

During the November election, Fairly became known as a vocal opponent of the bond through videos released through his website, Inspire Amarillo. Fairly criticized the 39 percent tax increase and the total cost that was included in the November bond, Proposition A, as well as the fact that the project included no anchor tenant for the arena. Fairly promised that upon defeat of Proposition A, he would deliver his proposal.

In unveiling his new plan, Fairly said it is influenced by conversations he had with voters during the Proposition A election about continuing to seek a new plan for the arena.

“The majority of voters who opposed Prop A agreed on the need to do something downtown”, Fairly said. “In addition to the 25,000 who voted for Prop A, most Amarilloans are in agreement, and we should keep working toward a solution.”

However, current members of the city council are showing signs that they may be unreceptive to any new proposals for a civic center bond. During a recent meeting of the Amarillo City Council, Mayor Ginger Nelson said it would likely be following the conclusion of the 2021 legislative session that she would consider again discussing a future plan for the Civic Center, which would occur after the 2021 election day on May 1, 2021.

Fairly and Hodge both played a major role in the completion of the Hodgetown baseball park project in downtown Amarillo, which opened in 2019. The Hodgetown ballpark is currently occupied by its anchor tenant, the Amarillo Sod Poodles, which is an Elmore Sports Group-owned team.

For additional details about the plan proposed by Fairly and Hodge, voters can visit InspireAmarillo.com.

Thomas Warren

Thomas Warren, III is the editor-in-chief of the Amarillo Pioneer newspaper in Amarillo, Texas.

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