Dear Media and Friends,

Sebastian Pellejero and Heather Gillers of the Wall Street Journal just published a very disturbing report on the state of arena and stadium financing in American Cities. Their report begins:

“Two decades of using borrowed money to pay for new stadiums is coming back to haunt many cities across the country.”

“[…] Coronavirus lockdowns have emptied arenas and stadiums indefinitely, shuttering professional sports and concert tours alike, and have significantly reduced taxes. When cities issue bonds and use the proceeds to build stadiums, they pledge to make yearly bond payments on the debt, often counting on revenue from sales, hotel or rental-car taxes to cover the payments.

Public officials have borrowed billions of dollars to build stadiums for major teams. Since 2000, more than 40% of almost $17 billion in tax-exempt municipal bonds sold to finance major-league stadiums were backed by levies on hotels and rental cars—making tourism taxes the predominant means of public stadium finance, according to the Brookings Institution.

The borrowers envisioned the sports facilities as a form of economic development that would attract fans from near and far, raising cities’ national profile and boosting their revenue beyond what was needed to pay back the bonds. The pandemic has turned that calculus on its head, crushing tourism proceeds and turning stadiums into a strain on city budgets—when cities are already hemorrhaging revenue from coronavirus shutdowns.”


Does this scenario sound familiar? It should, because the City of El Paso is being sucked dry by our insolvent Ballpark.

I am once again sharing with you the City’s Ballpark figures for 2014-2019. There you will see that over the last six years the Ballpark was 80% subsidized by the Hotel Occupancy Tax ($18M) and City General Fund ($2.5M).

During the same six years the Ballpark generated only $5.2M in revenue of which only $1.5M came from ticket sales, since the City received only 50 to 55 cents for each ticket sold.

Way to go, Joyce Wilson! You screwed us for the next quarter century!

Now that Hotel Occupancy Tax revenue for FY 2019-2020 is down to only a fraction of what was expected, we can expect that the City General Fund–that is, the taxpayers–will have to kick in at least $1M, and the math for FY 2020-2021 year may be even worse.

Moreover, David Crowder of the Oligarchy Gazette is reporting that because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Chihuahuas are unlikely to play next season, so there goes the ticket sales revenue!Please note that during the March 30 City Council meeting, City CFO Cortinas stated that the original “financing of 

the Ballpark was not ideal,” and he even called it “a bad deal.” He went on to refer specifically to the budgetary “pressure” from the Ballpark. If you do not believe me, go ahead and view the video footage.


Mayor Margo and six other politicians on City Council continue to bloviate about how we voted for a sports arena, yet they all can read the plain English of the ballot language that was presented to the voters in 2012. Believe me, they know that their “Arena” cannot be constructed for less than a half billion dollars, and none of them have ever denied this inconvenient fact, nor have the City Manager or CFO. That is because it is the simple truth.So the answer to my rhetorical question above is “Hell no!”
Enjoy your day,

WSJ report: