Judge’s Final Ruling Prohibits Downtown El Paso Sports Arena
After more than a month of speculation, Austin District Judge Amy Clark Meachum ruled this morning that a sports arena cannot be built in Downtown El Paso. In her five page Final Judgement, Meachum specifically mentioned that the City of El Paso may proceed with a multi-purpose performing arts and entertainment facility. However, she held firm against an arena designed to accommodate sports.
"The City may not lawfully expend proceeds generated from the sale of the Bonds to design, construct, improve, renovate, or equip the Facility in Downtown El Paso to be suitable for a sports arena. No funding from other sources may be used to modify, complete or enhance the Facility to make it suitable for a sports arena, which would not comport with the ordinance."
That is the only part of Judge Meachum's ruling that mentions sports. The wording is vague, so now the City has three choices. The first would be to appeal today's ruling. The second is adding sports to the language involving the multi-purpose facility on an upcoming ballot and allowing El Pasoans to vote in a future election. Finally, the City could also devise a way to design the facility where it could potentially host certain special sporting events like a boxing match or NCAA Basketball Tournament while not built primarily for these types of activities.
The City of El Paso had not issued a formal comment following the final ruling and a special council session was ongoing as of Monday afternoon. It will be interesting to see what course of action they take in order to proceed with the $180 million project.
City Attorney Sylvia Firth met the media at City Hall and explained that city council would be briefed tomorrow on their options following Judge Meachum's final ruling today.