On Monday during its agenda review, the City Council discussed spending $7,930,335 to improve the Ballpark. Rep. Annello and Mayor Leeser stated they were never briefed about the item whereas Oligarch reps Hernandez and Salcido indicated they were. You can follow the discussion on this video starting at 42:30.
The next day, at the regular City Council meeting, the proposed expenditure appeared under item 43. The vote was 7-0 (with Lizarraga absent) to delay consideration until January, by which time there will be three new City Council representatives.
It will be interesting to see whether a majority of City Council representatives in January will have the appetite to keep writing big checks for Ballpark infrastructure. $7,930,335 is a lot of taxpayer money for an entertainment venue that is occupied by a sports team that is privately owned.
Also on Tuesday, the Downtown Development Corporation was presented with a PowerPoint showing that the Ballpark, for the first time since it began operation, received no subsidy from the General Fund in FY 2022. That is because revenue from the Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT) allocated for the Ballpark shot up to $3,930,669. But make no mistake about it. That is also a subsidy. HOT funds are supposed to be used to support tourism, in the proper sense of the word. In any case, this brings little solace when you consider that the Ballpark has cost the taxpayers well over $150 million and that the contract with MSSG obligates the City to spend millions on maintenance and upkeep and to lease public parking spaces to MSSG for only 50 to 75 cents.
It’s a beautiful facility but it will be subsidized by the taxpayers and the HOT for its entire existence.
A much better scenario is the multipurpose arena that is being built in Sunland Park, NM by private investors, who are putting up the capital and assuming all of the risk. The taxpayers of El Paso will not have to contribute one single dollar. Imagine that!