The downtown El Paso ballpark was a very controversial moment in the city's history. There were a lot of people who didn't want the old City Hall to be torn down. A lot of El Pasoans didn't want the Fosters and Hunts, the El Paso Chihuahuas owners, to get what was perceived to be a sweetheart deal. And then there was the way the ballpark was financed. We were told that there would be no property taxes used to pay back the ballpark debt, that the voter-approved 2% increase in the hotel occupancy tax plus other taxes would cover the debt.

Of course, we know that didn't happen. For the first five years of the ballpark's existence, the General Fund has been used to help cover part of the ballpark debt. It was expected that would remain the same for the next four years, but the City released some potentially good news yesterday about the ballpark.

In a press release, City officials said that the debt-financing model for the downtown ballpark is better than expected and the hotel Occupancy tax and team revenues should be able to cover the ballpark debt in Fiscal Year 2020.

This year’s fiscal revenue report shows that the 2% hotel occupancy tax increase, sales tax, ticket sales, and property lease revenues will be able to support the debt beginning next year. City officials also said that because of a move three years ago in which the City refinanced a portion of the ballpark debt, a resulting $11-million savings also is helping to relieve the taxpayers of the debt burden from the General Fund.

City officials say if there are any future surplus revenues, they will be using those toward reimbursing $2.7 million in past City subsidies and capital improvements at the ballpark.

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