In light of an upcoming vote on Nov. 2 for a bond that would allocate $50 million to construct a multi-purpose sports stadium that would primarily be used by the NM United soccer team, a rally gathered in Albuquerque on Oct. 13 in protest. Organized by the grassroot campaign Stop the Stadium, workers and residents spoke out about the issues of gentrification with the stadium that would heavily impact the Barelas and South Broadway neighborhoods.

While many that support that bond speak about the positive economic situation it will bring to Albuquerque, there is major contention that a majority of the funding is publicly financed. The $50 million in tax money from the state would be accompanied by the $32.5 million that NM United is committing. Part of that is the $10 million capital investment that they would commit before construction and the other $22 million would be paid back to the city over the next 25 years.

“These people are capable of paying for a stadium out of their own damn pockets,” said Charles Knoblauch, a long-time resident of the Barelas neighborhood. “They have no need to reach into the pockets of those people of Albuquerque. They can do it themselves to finance their little hobby.”



The city itself would pledge gross receipt tax revenue to pay back their debts, which officials estimate would cost $3.2 million annually for 20 years.

Frances Armijo, a resident of the South Broadway neighborhood, said she feels that the voices of those impacted by the stadium have not been prioritized enough.

“All the discussion surrounding the proposed soccer stadium is about its economic value, or lack thereof, to downtown and the Rail Yards,” Armijo said. “Nowhere do I read or hear of the economic and social impact it will have on the Barelas and South Broadway neighborhoods. That’s because, in my opinion, we simply don’t matter (to proponents of the bond).”

Despite the opposition, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller is in favor of the proposed stadium and said that the publicly-owned stadium will be “a long-term investment for families of the future” at a recent mayoral forum. He also said that the city would create a community benefits agreement with the neighborhoods affected to offset the damages caused to the neighborhoods.

In addition, some residents of the Barelas neighborhood have come out in support of a statement from the Barelas Neighborhood Association, which called on residents to vote “yes” on the measure to economically benefit the community.

“At a moment when the rich history and culture of our communities is being appropriated and exploited, bond measure R-21-187 creates an opportunity to craft a national model for how to more equitably redevelop an urban core,” the statement reads. 

Yet, many remain unsure. Barelas resident Vic Gomez said that while the project will create jobs, of the 780 promised, 500 are just temporary construction jobs. In addition, Gomez speculated if the other jobs would even be above minimum wage or have benefits.

Bex Hampton, a Stop the Stadium organizer who had been pushed out of their prior neighborhood due to increased rent costs, said that while they are not against development, they are against it only benefiting the wealthy.

“They're not trying to improve (the neighborhood) for the people who already exist here,” Hampton said. “If they cared about people who exist here, they would prevent landlords from charging ridiculous amounts of money for rent, and they would raise the minimum wage and raise wages so we can actually afford to live in this city. That's the kind of development we need.”

Jim Harvey, the executive director of Albuquerque Center for Justice and Peace, said he would rather see the city's money put towards long-term housing options for the unhoused population, instead of an “amusement park for the wealthy.”

“We need a redirection of resources. We've got homeless people living on the streets and under bridges and in corners, and any place that they can find,” Harvey said.  “And the city is dragging its feet on addressing the homeless issue. And I'm not talking about warehousing people like in the proposed Gateway Center; I'm talking about real homes, real opportunities for a real place to live.”

If the bond does pass, Harvey said that a stadium could potentially increase security efforts in the area, and thus impact the safety of the unhoused population and restrict who can be in the area. 

This is not the first time Albuquerque residents have felt the effects of gentrification. Gomez spoke about how the construction of the botanical garden, where San Gabriel Park is, affected communities in the ’90s, and, more recently, how the construction of the ART project affected individuals in the South Valley. Gomez said these projects often break cultures and communities, and people are forced “to find another place to live” because the city is only considering the desires of the wealthy.

Madeline Pukite is a beat reporter at the Daily Lobo. They can be contacted at news@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @madelinepukite