El Paso, TX

A Texas City Council Adds More Problems as the Price For a Sports Arena Only Increases

Tom Handy

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El PasoScreenshot from Twitter

On November 9, El Paso City Council voted to continue the entertainment center in downtown.

In 2012, the Multi-Purpose Performing Arts and Entertainment Center was approved by voters at a cost of $180 million. Almost 10 years late, the cost is likely to be much higher.

Similar arenas have been built and it cost the City more than what El Paso had initially planned.

1. Dickies Arena in Fort Worth has a capacity of 13,550. It was built in 2015 and cost $540 million in 2017 dollars.

2. UT-Austin Erwin Arena has a basketball capacity of 10,000 cost $338 million ($33,800 per seat) in 2018

3. Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee has a basketball capacity of 17,341 had a price tag of $485.9 million in 2016-2018.

With the cost to build today, estimates for El Paso’s Multi-Purpose Center could easily double in price. Fortune stated steel prices are up 200%.

City Council voted to have an outside estimate to determine the cost of the Multi-Purpose Center.

City Manager Tommy Gonzalez was tasked to find a consultant to get the estimate.

Representative Claudia Rodriguez said:

"I saw them basically falling apart and they have holes in them. These buildings are worth protecting, at least for the time being."
"I hope we get to a point where the entire community is happy with the end result. I think this is an item, a project that has been very controversial. And people are wanting resolution for it."

Representative Isabel Salcido proposed the latest plan with some amendments commented:

“This is a very straightforward item that seeks a financial plan for the voter-approved bond project with a well-defined structure and direction. What was being proposed previously, in my opinion, was very ambiguous and didn't provide clear direction. The last thing we want to do is to mislead the public with a guesstimate.”

Another issue that will add to the overall bill is repairing nearby buildings that are decaying.

Representative Peter Svarzbien added:

“The original cost of the approved bond from voters didn’t mention the protection of the current buildings.”

UTEP Professor and historian Max Grossman has a lawsuit against the City to preserve the historic buildings in the area where the Multi-Purpose Center is to be built.

Grossman stated in a news release:

"I look forward to entering into good-faith discussions with the City of El Paso aimed at finding a solution that will preserve the buildings within the 'Arena Footprint.' In the spirit of the upcoming discussions, I will have no further comment for the media going forward."
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Planned El Paso Multiplex ComplexABC 7 Screenshot from Twitter

City Council met a lot of resistance from locals

Jud Burgess said:

“I can say what I want to say. Can you turn my mic back on? Thank you. The worse politicians are the politicians who prey on the ignorance and apathy of evil.”

El Pasoan Rick Bonart commented:

“If you do find that you can’t come in on budget, it’s my humble and personal opinion that it would be advisable to go back to the public for another vote.”

Ana Reza prefers the Multi-Purpose Complex should be built somewhere else.

“How many veterans lived in that area over the years and died for our place? Whenever there was a war, there were a lot of black ribbons in those houses. This is our land, this is our community space it has no place for the arena.”

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