The City of Albuquerque and New Mexico United have agreed terms on a long-term lease and development agreement for a new stadium project for the USL Championship soccer team.
United, which was founded in June 2018 and currently competes in the second tier of US club football, is seeking to develop a stadium seating 10,000 to 12,000 fans, which is expected to cost between $65m (£47.5m/€55.5m) and $70m.
The lease and development agreement will go into agreement if voters approve a Stadium Bond in a municipal election scheduled for November 2. The Bond has been set at $50m, but a $10m commitment has been made by the club to help build the stadium, with an additional $8m coming from state appropriations. United is also guaranteeing another $22m in rent payments over the next 25 years.
Nevertheless, the stadium project has been criticised by locals, especially because of the cost to taxpayers. The City yesterday (Thursday) stressed that if the bond passes, the lease agreement includes a $32.5m contribution toward the stadium project by New Mexico United, and the team is committed to paying for the day-to-day operating costs.
The agreement also outlines the use of local food and beverage vendors, a provision to bring a women’s soccer team to Albuquerque, and a community benefits agreement with any neighbourhoods the stadium could be built near.
“This is a strong deal for Albuquerque, especially compared to other deals of its kind,” said Lawrence Rael, Chief Operations Officer for the City of Albuquerque. “If voters decide they do want to approve the bond and move forward with a publicly owned stadium, they will know that there is a major commitment of private funding and effort going in as well.”
New Mexico United owner, Peter Trevisani, added: “New Mexico United is committed to our fans, to the stadium, and to Albuquerque for the long haul. The Albuquerque Isotopes will be 20 years old next year. This agreement commits us for 25 years, and hopefully much, much longer.”
United currently plays at Rio Grande Credit Union Field at Isotopes Park, a minor league baseball stadium. The Letter of Intent signed yesterday contains additional provisions guaranteeing the City’s exclusive use of the new stadium for at least 15 days a year for other purposes such as community events and performances.
Ernie C’ de Baca, President and CEO of the Hispano Chamber of Commerce, said: “Albuquerque needs this stadium. It’ll create 500 jobs and $27m during the construction phase, and 280 full-time jobs when in operations—all without raising taxes by a single dime. This stadium is the shot in the arm our community needs right now.”