Downtown Arena Project Does Not Need Another Feasibility Study
When news broke yesterday that El Paso City Council voted 4-2 in favor of scrapping plans for building a new $180 million multipurpose arena in the Duranguito neighborhood, some people were surprised. Just weeks before, City Council unanimously approved the area, but local residents and historical society officials protested the site from the get go. As pressure was starting to mount, council members and mayor Oscar Leeser met late last week to try and come up with an alternative. The latest solution is to consider building the arena where the Convention Center currently is and keep the Abraham Chavez Theater intact.
Next up is a feasibility study to determine if the Convention Center is the right place for El Paso's $180 million project. As long as its built within 1,000 feet of the facility, the city would receive a $25 million tax incentive. If they add that amount into the cost of the multi-purpose center, they would have a total of $205 million to spend. The only questions left are how long will the study take to complete, how much money will it cost, and why do we need another feasibility study?
It has already been more than four years since the public voted to build the facility as part of the massive Quality of Life Bond Issue. Up until recently, little information had been known as to where our city leaders were planning to build the arena and when construction would begin. Now that the Duranguito neighborhood is eliminated, there are a few spots in the downtown area that still make sense. In addition to the Convention Center, the rail yard site behind the old El Paso Times building on Campbell street is a location that could get a serious look. The big question with the rail yards is whether or not Union Pacific will ask the city to close streets at various railroad crossings.
My only hope is that this new feasibility study is completed as quickly as possible so we can move on a location and start construction on the downtown arena before the total cost of the project gets too high.