Ruling allows sporting events at downtown arena

Were El Paso voters aware of the baseball park when they approved the downtown arena?Thumbnail

The controversial Multipurpose Performing Arts and Entertainment Center that was not allowed to host sporting events now can.

El Paso mayor Dee Margo announced the ruling Wednesday in a news conference.

The Court of Appeals decision allows the City of El Paso to build the arena to accommodate sports, and sporting events, and may use outside funding sources for its construction.

“The ruling means we can deliver a multipurpose facility that El Pasoans overwhelming voted for and approved in 2012 - an MPC that accommodates performing arts and other entertainment, including sports. The City Attorney’s Office and its legal team did a phenomenal job of presenting the City’s case and we are beyond thrilled with this win,” Mayor Dee Margo said.

“We still don’t feel that’s what the voters voted for and we feel that voters have never approved the destruction of duranguito," said Carmen Rodriguez the attorney for Union Plaza residents. “It is not a done deal it is not final. They cannot start to demolish we have 30 days to consider the decision to decide whether we can appeal or we will appeal.”

City Attorney Karla Nieman said the ruling affirms that the work being done for the MPC is in compliance with state regulations. During the appeal, the City contended that the broad meaning of “entertainment” always included sports.

This signature bond project was approved by voters with a total of 102,358 people voted in favor, representing 71.67 percent of the votes cast in the 2012 election.

“The other sides cost the city well over $1 million. Well over $1 million in legal fees and it’s now just been repudiated buy this action today. So it’s a shame we have to pay that to get to where we are today which is where we should’ve been a year ago," said Margo.

The ordinance calling for the election stated the MPC would be downtown, which was affirmed by court ruling issued last year.

Fencing was installed Wednesday morning to secure the footprint.

City officials said the fence went up in order to begin the next phase of the archaeological study and to replace the temporary fencing that is currently onsite.

Opponents of the MPC's location told CBS4 there are historical artifacts underneath the Union Plaza neighborhood.

"Below us are the origins of El Paso, Texas. The first community north of the Rio Grande and what is now El Paso was built exactly where we're standing," Max Grossman, an activist for the Union Plaza neighborhood, said.

The city is conducting the study to comply with the Texas Antiquities Code established by the Texas Historical Commission. If there are in fact items of historical significance, the Commission would have to be notified.

"We'll process the artifacts, we'll clean them up and we'll display them," Margo said. "We'll do whatever we need to do to meet the Texas Antiquities Code and what's required. Which we have done before."

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