If Triple-A baseball comes to El Paso, a new downtown ballpark will need to be constructed to house the team by as early as 2014. Tomorrow's City Council meeting will help determine whether or not that will happen. There are eight City Council representatives in ElPaso, and most seem to be in favor of building the new downtown ballpark. The big question many of our reps still have is where City Hall will be built? The plans are for the current City Hall site to be leveled in order to build the new stadium. With some help from the El Paso Times, here is my best predicition as to how tomorrow's City Council vote will go.
District 1 Ann Morgan Lilly - Yes
"It's a real opportunity for El Paso and Downtown. I understand why the location would be an excellent place for it because of the access."
District 2 Susie Byrd - Yes
"I'm very excited about it. I think certainly most people see it as really important investment in Downtown and helping it come to life again."
District 3 Emma Acosta - Yes
"I say yes to the stadium, but I cannot respond to all the other variables yet. Just received a report that I've just started reading."
District 4 Carl Robinson - No
"It doesn't pass the common-sense test to give away your house and rent another space to live in," referring to his reservations about relocating City Hall and the impact the ballpark could have on the city-owned Cohen Stadium."
District 5 Dr. Michiel Noe - Yes
"You couldn't find a better place Downtown to put a baseball stadium. We need to assure them that we'll have the stadium. Work has to be done right and very quickly."
District 6 Eddie Holguin - No
"I'm not against the new ballpark, but I have a lot of questions about City Hall that haven't been answered yet. People are excited about the ballpark but you have to look at the repercussions. This is an expense that is going to burden everyone for lifetimes to come. There is no end in sight."
District 7 Steve Ortega - Yes
"It's a great economic development tool for our community with most of the revenue paid for by outsiders. ... It's transformational."
District 8 Cortney Niland - Yes
"Aside from an economic development boost, the baseball park will bring the affordable, quality family entertainment that this community is thirsty for."
Final Vote 6-2 in favor of the new ballpark.
Analysis: Most of the City Council representatives are in favor of downtown development and realize that a new ballpark can enhance the city's progression in a big way. Robinson, the Northeast rep, will fight for Cohen Stadium and the Diablos. He does not want to lose their anchor tenant and the independent baseball franchise. Holguin, votes no because he has a track record of turning down any proposal that involves raising taxes. of the Tigua Indian tribe, who purchased the Diablos last year and financially rescued the team. Still, the new downtown ballpark passes by a 75% margin. One final note: it will be interesting to see how City Council elects to finance the new stadium. The logical choice would be to raise the hotel occupancy tax by 2.5%. That would raise $35 million, and cover about 70% of the ballpark's projected cost.