Monday, July 07, 2008


The city has let out a planning contract for looking at the possibility of building a new arena complex downtown. This photo is of the old Civic Auditorium near old St. Joseph's Hospital.I remember I was in the place one night with my dad at the boxing matches when it was announced the Russians had just orbited Sputnik. No one quite knew what a satellite was.

The naysayers are already at it in the local newspapers saying a new arena is all a waste of money. Why, because it might not make a profit. If we follow that thread a little more, here are other things that don't make a profit for cities. Libraries, senior citizen centers, parks, community centers, summer day camps, after school activities......well, you can see where we would be if all we concerned ourselves with was what made a profit.

I am not sure any arena can make a profit, although the Isotopes park is certainly doing so. Maybe the best we can hope for in an arena is a small subsidy or break even situation. If we are going to be all that this city should be then we need a multi purpose arena for everything from music events to indoor football games. This is the kind of thing that great cities do. We did it once before in 1957 when Albuquerque opened its Civic Auditorium. It was torn down 30 years later and it is time to build a new one.


NewMexiKen said...

Great cities almost all have water ways open to the public for strolling, sipping a cool drink, watching the light change. When will Albuquerque develop a small portion of America's third longest river so that its residents and tourists can watch the Rio Grande?

I'm talking about a walkway along the river, not a path through the bosque. I am talking about a limited amount of commercial development such as cafes and shops on the bank well above the flood line is a very specific, closely zoned place. Limited, well done — and profitable for the city's tax coffers.

The Rio Grande riverbank is Albuquerque's unpolished gem.

Bosque Bill said...

A new arena would be good for the city. I have many fond memories of attending events at the old sand-casted roof arena. Went to the symphony's youth concert series, saw a road-show of The King and I, and many other enlightening events.

Since when is a city defined as a profit making organization?

Jim Baca said...

A rare comment from the blogger. I have always though our city was unique for not developing malls on the river. If you want to hike along the river the trails and wildlife are great, but we don't need a Chili's restaurant overlooking it. Lets keep it as wild as possible.

NewMexiKen said...

Jim, why would it have to be a Chili's? Why use the lowest common denominator to challenge the whole idea? Did I not say limited and closely zoned?

Show me one place where one can hike along the river. It's the river that is unique, not the bosque.

Dr. Know said...

Boardwalks, museums and fountains are OK -- yet be very careful not to slip down that slippery slope of taxpayer funded sports stadiums. (Think Tampa Bay, St. Pete, Atlanta, Miami, etc.)

Michael Bernstein said...

Let me concur with both you Jim, and Dr. Know's comment:

Multi-purpose facilities can have a positive return on investment for the community (even if they never turn a profit directly), while taxpayer funded sports stadiums have a *negative* return on investment for the community, even though they can be immensely profitable for their owners.

Even so, any large urban vanity project should be suspect, IMO, as a diverse portfolio of smaller projects may be a much better investment.

Michael Bernstein said...

Jim and Newmexiken, how about a compromise? An elevated walkway/park set back from the river (so leaving it undisturbed and undeveloped) but overlooking it could work.

Michael Bernstein said...

Here's a link to a study substantiating the negative economic effects of Stadiums:

More here: