It's not quite a done deal, but it sure looks like a new baseball stadium will be built on the site where City Hall now sits. A Triple-A baseball team will make it their home and the stadium will also host other sports and recreational events. If voters in November agree, the stadium will be built with an increase on the hotel tax. It's a pittance really and one must agree with City Rep Cortney Niland that it is time that others pay for our buildings just as we have been paying for theirs. Better the hotel tax increase than other ways to finance the stadium. And, if people listen to Rep. Steve Ortega (and they should), the stadium will have an international footprint.
Read the Times report or see artist's renderings of the stadium at KVIA.
Just speaking with a few friends in the environmental community, I haven't heard a great deal of support. There's concern that, once again, a few will get richer on the backs of the many and that no really high-paying jobs will be created in our City. Yes, some persons/corporate entities stand to make more money - but we will all be enriched greatly by the new stadium with a Triple-A team playing in it. It will even be good for the environment.
I'm not a big sports fan. I may make two or three games at the most. I stopped being interested in sports when Tommy Lasorda left the Dodgers and Koufax and Drysdale had become pictures on the wall. I loved Dandy Don Meridith and Roger Staubach - but they're long gone and the Cowboys have an owner who hated Coach Landry. The last team I followed passionately was the U.S. Women's Soccer team with Mia Hamm and Brandi Chastain. Ah! The good ol' days! So, don't expect me at too many El Paso Padres or Mountainstars games.
Nevertheless, the stadium is a good idea. Why? It means more tourist dollars for one thing. Also, a baseball park won't create many high-paying jobs, but remember that creative class we are trying to attract? Give them Triple-A ball and more high paying jobs will come to El Paso (especially now that there are more restaurants that serve food past 9 or 10 p.m. - and I say this somewhat tongue in cheek but it's true. In addition, the kinds of neighborhoods and social/entertainment life created by Smart Growth/Smart Code also is attractive to the creative class.) The Triple-A team with a downtown stadium will contribute largely to attracting companies and high-paying jobs and building the tax base (if City Council doesn't give that base away with frivolous incentives to companies as if El Paso wouldn't be worthy otherwise.)
The stadium will spur more downtown development. All of us in the environmental/conservation community favor infill over sprawl - this stadium invites infill. Downtown won't be vacant - it will be filled and vibrant.
It will be sad to see the burden placed on Insights but maybe this will be just the thing to get them off their butts and working hard on preserving the dinosaur tracks on the land that they own in Sunland Park. They need this opportunity for values clarification.
Finally, one of the biggest eyesores downtown is City Hall - a building that members of City staff tell me is already too small. When friends of mine from San Antonio stopped briefly at Union Station on an Amtrak trip through the West, their only site of El Paso was City Hall. They were aghast. We want infill, we want conservation, we want the arts, we want the aesthetically pleasing to go with our order for a Mexican plate. Adios City Hall.
Hello Triple-A baseball!