Former City Manager Joyce Wilson wrote a guest column criticizing the City’s current proposal to build the Arena at the Union Depot, and Max Grossman responded with a guest column of his own.

This morning, Wilson wrote to our City leadership (whom she called “pea-brains” in her previous email), insisting that they “stop the Arena steal” and build a much larger venue than we can afford.

That would require exceeding the $180 million budget by more than $300 million, which would significantly increase our property tax and potentially put the City’s bond rating at risk.

During her time as City Manager, none of the members of the Paso del Norte Group stepped forward to invest their money in this project, nor did anyone offer to chip in during the nine years of the Tommy Gonzalez regime.

That is because the elites who want a 15,000-seat arena also want us to pay for it, just like they made us pay for their insolvent Ballpark, which is kept afloat with a $4.2 million annual subsidy from the 17.5% Hotel Occupancy Tax, one of the ten highest in the nation.

But the future Arena will not receive a single penny of hotel tax, so building a half-billion-dollar facility could mean an annual subsidy from our General Fund in excess of $10 million, and possibly $20 million.

Why would any investor want to absorb that kind of a loss?

The 2012 Quality of Life Bond ordinance requires the arena to be built downtown (though the ballot did not state that), and there are only two locations where one could erect a structure of that size without triggering more litigation: at the Convention Center or the railyard behind City Hall.

Here is a modest proposal: Cancel the project completely and don’t spend the $180 million!

We feel certain that the bond indenture provides for that option.

The City can then donate land at the Airport to the developers who want an Arena. They can pay for it themselves and assume all the capital risk without asking the taxpayers for corporate welfare.

The fact is that we, the people of El Paso, are sick and tired of paying for the developers’ stuff and of hearing the Joyce Wilsons of the world whine like a bunch of spoiled third-graders when they don’t get their candy.