McALLEN — The city has long wanted to be a destination. Keeping visitors in town for extended stretches has always been the challenge. And continues to be.
But the Convention Center area in the southwest part of town added the Performing Arts Center in late 2016 and Dave & Buster’s earlier that year. There’s an ongoing effort to spruce up Quinta Mazatlán, the birding center, and improve parks around the city. The abundance of shopping and restaurant options provide visitors other options, city leaders said.
Now, they believe the recently opened youth baseball complex at the intersection of 29th Street and Auburn Avenue helps McAllen’s case as a destination.
“The baseball park is not going to make us money, per se,” City Manager Roel “Roy” Rodriguez said. “Not when you walk into the complex.”
“Nowadays, kids don’t just play Little League, they play travel ball all year all over the place,” Mayor Jim Darling said. “They stay in your hotels and eat in your restaurants.”
The complex, paid for through a $15 million 2013 bond election approve by McAllen voters, features 11 baseball fields. There will be provisions for potential development of one additional field as a Miracle Field, which would comply with Americans with Disabilities Act standards.
“Let’s not forget,” Rodriguez said, “that we want to create quality of life for our citizens.”
After all, they’re the ones who voted for the complex that opened last week. The vote took place five years ago, and the slow construction process frustrated city leaders. But it’s done now, and they’re focused on the benefits it could bring.
“What we’ve all concluded and agreed on is we need a lot of parks, a lot of events, a lot of functions all year long,” Rodriguez said. “We’re trying to put those pieces together. The baseball complex fits into that puzzle.”
Now, the city has many events throughout the year, highlighted by the annual holiday parade each December. The past two summers, the city hosted the Games of Texas, the yearly youth sports event. The city wants more events like that.
“We had 8,000 participants,” Darling said of that event. “The more events you can land like that, the better off you are.”