Dozens of residents and community leaders gathered in the Barelas neighborhood on Wednesday, demanding that city and taxpayer resources not be allocated to the proposed New Mexico United Stadium. In recent weeks community members and activists have organized to oppose what they expect will be a displacement of community members from established and historic neighborhoods and the financial burden that they say the stadium will place on Albuquerque taxpayers.
"Our local elites are encouraging these projects and are doing nothing to stop the displacement," Coordinator of "Stop The Stadium" campaign Anna Lee Desaulniers said. Desaulniers said she was motivated to organize opposition to the stadium after she was forced from her residence in Barelas last month due to rising cost of rent. Lee noted how other stadiums in cities similar in size to Albuquerque had displaced and uprooted historical neighborhoods. "Multimillionaires do not need our tax dollars. We need our tax dollars to go directly to improving our quality of life," Desaulniers said.
Charles Knoblauch, who owns the house where the press conference was held, was critical about the historical neglect the Barelas neighborhood has endured by city administrators. Knoblauch was critical of the enthusiasm displayed by the city for the project, while other needs such as traffic, safety and homelessness in the neighborhood have been historically neglected. "Destruction of an established neighborhood, Barelas—who pays for the displacement of the residents? Are they condemned to homelessness?" Knoblauch said.
The president of the South Broadway Neighborhood Association, Francis Armijo, was also in attendance at the press conference. Armijo was critical of how the stadium would benefit the project's investors instead of established Barelas residents. "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. In my opinion, we are the sacrificial lambs for this vanity project. Please, when you vote, ask yourself, 'Would I want this in my neighborhood?' " Armijo said.
The director of the Albuquerque Center For Peace And Justice, Jim Harvey, was also in attendance. Harvey was critical of the city's use of resources, especially the perceived prioritization of the stadium over affordable housing and services for Albuquerque's houseless population. "I know gentrification when I see it. And that's what this is all about. More gentrification. More money in the pockets of people who don't need it. And eventually more living for people who can afford high-end properties and once the space is available, that's what we'll see. We don't need that. What we need is a redirection of resources. We've got homeless people living on the streets and under bridges and corners and any place that they can find."
Organizers for "Stop The Stadium" have planned a rally on November 1, at 5pm at Fourth St. and Barelas Rd. SW.
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