It has been three years since voters approved the $473 million quality of life bond election. That included a new multi- purpose downtown arena, which had not been discussed much since it passed in 2012. The arena, which will also be a cultural and performing arts center is expected to seat between 10,000 and 12,000 people. It will be similar in capacity to the Don Haskins Center, which seats 12,222.

However, the new arena will feature plenty of suites and luxury boxes, which the 39-year old DHC does not offer. For concerts, it would be easier for the larger acts to load their big stages, equipment, and pyrotechnics into the downtown arena. Many of these shows have skipped over El Paso in past years because the tunnel of the Haskins Center was not conducive to the biggest music acts. It could also make El Paso a regular site for WWE, boxing and UFC shows. I know that some people believe that El Paso needs an 18,000-20,000 seat arena in order to attract some major sporting events like the NCAA Basketball Tournament. I would rather see a 10,000 seat arena with the capability to expand to 15,000 in order to qualify for special events like an NCAA regional site.

My suggestion for an anchor tenant would be the UTEP men’s basketball team. I know the thought of leaving the Don Haskins Center might seem sacrilegious to some Miner faithful, but a brand new state-of-the-art downtown arena with suites and club access could help boost attendance for the school’s basketball program. It would also be operated independent of the university, which would be another plus. Since the DHC has never renovated since it opened in 1976, a shiny new toy could help put some much needed life into fan experience at a UTEP men’s basketball game.