Under Executive Session item EX1 today, our City Council announced a public-private partnership with Notes Live, Inc., a private developer, which will build a 12,500-seat amphitheater at the former site of Cohen Baseball Stadium and assume all the capital risk with absolutely no General Fund subsidy.

The $80 million project will be constructed on a 50-acre lot and will be integrated into the Cohen Entertainment District Master Plan, which will include restaurants, retail, hotels, offices, and recreation.

The City will provide $30.6 million in incentives through Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone 11, consisting of rebates for property tax and sales taxes for a period of 20 years.

Between construction and operational impact, the Sunset Amphitheater (as it will be called) is expected to generate $5.4 billion in economic activity and support over 2,000 jobs over the life of the agreement.

Interim Director of Economic and International Development, Karina Brasgalla, made a brief presentation of her office’s projections.

The City has already prepared a 380 Agreement, contract of sale, and parking management agreement.

Incredibly, the amphitheater is projected to be completed in March 2026, about 23 months from now, less time than it took the City to plant a dozen trees in San Jacinto Plaza!

Mayor Pro Temp Kennedy, the only member of City Council with experience in entertainment venues, made the motion to approve the plan, which was seconded by Rep. Joe Molinar, in whose District the amphitheater will be constructed.

The vote was 6-1 with Rep. Cassandra Hernandez voting NAY and Rep. Isabel Salcido not present.

Hernandez, the most fanatical supporter of building an arena in Duranguito, looked grim during the brief City Council discussion and remained silent as a tomb, looking as if she had just lost her campaign for Mayor. She declined to attend the half-hour press conference that came immediately after the vote.

We recorded the press conference in its entirety and even asked a question at the 23:50 mark:

JW Roth is the founder and CEO of Notes Live and was invited to step up to the podium, with his team standing behind him. He stated:

“We’re in the rock n’ roll business. There’s a lot of businesses that you see come and go and every city sees that. When we come, we bring fun. What we’re gonna build here is part of our ten-amphitheater collection. It will be one of the most luxurious amphitheaters, one of the most premium amphitheaters ever built in history. […] But what we’re gonna build in El Paso is far and above all that we have built so far, in the sense that, it is part of the highest premium collection that we build.”

For his part, Mayor Leeser expressed a lot of excitement about the project, emphasizing that it will not be subsidized by the taxpayers through their property tax. When asked what this means for the ill-fated MPC and the $180 million of bond money allocated for it, he was evasive, indicating that the City Council would need to make a decision about that soon.

We are going to go out a limb here.

We think Brian Kennedy is certainly the brain behind this project since he is the only one with the experience and acumen to conceive of it and make it happen.

We also think this means the City will not build a downtown MPC. In fact, the City will not spend $180 million at all and refund the unspent bond funds to the bondholders.

The taxpayers will shoulder significantly less debt and our City property tax will not increase for two consecutive fiscal years.

In a word, capitalism and the laws of free market economics have won the day!

Our Mayor and six City Council Representatives have shown that large entertainment projects can be built without massive public subsidies and that the there is a better economic model than the one represented by our insolvent Ballpark.

“It’s a perfect location,” Kennedy told El Paso Taxpayer Revolt. “Cohen Stadium has access from Gateway North and South, the Loop and Juarez. There’s plenty of room for parking. And since the City already owns the land we can accommodate the kind of additional development facilities like this attract. I think El Pasoans are going to love it. They’re going to get great entertainment without a dime coming out of their pocketbook.”

Cassandra and her gaggle of tax-and-spend cronies, who are addicted to wasteful capital improvement projects and corporate welfare, are the big losers and will always be remembered as financial villains.

PHOTO: Rep. Brian Kennedy and JW Roth, founder and CEO of Notes Live, Inc.