With planning underway for a new arena, El Paso officials are now identifying the lead site for the project.
Ever since a quality of life bond proposal was passed by voters in 2012, El Paso has been planning to construct an arena as part of a larger development that would also a Hispanic Cultural Center and a Children’s Museum. The city has been pursuing projects of this type for several years, having previously constructed Southwest University Park, the home of Minor League Baseball’s El Paso Chihuahuas.
The site identified for the arena is south of Southwest University Park and surrounding amenities such as the El Paso Convention Center and the Abraham Chavez Theatre. Bounded by West San Antonio Avenue, South Santa Fe Avenue, West Paisano Drive, and Leon Street, the two-block parcel would be used to develop the arena, which is expected to open in 2019 or 2020.
At this point, the city views the plan as preliminary and says that it does not want to use the entirety of both blocks. However, several of the identified properties need to be acquired and, though it does not anticipate exercising it, the city is currently considering whether eminent domain could be a part of the process. More from KVIA ABC 7:
“The property acquisition process will include asking city council to consider authorizing the City’s eminent domain authority,” the city stated in a news release.
“We are working closely with our consultants to identify the smallest area possible within the footprint for the project, in order to disrupt the fewest number of landowners,” City Manager Tommy Gonzalez said.
“The power of eminent domain allows the City to begin a structured negotiation process with established protections for and disclosures to property owners,” City Attorney Sylvia Borunda Firth said. “It is absolutely our goal to negotiate in good faith with property owners and reach agreement on the purchase price.”
Many details concerning the arena’s design remain unknown, but the city has previously stated that it foresees the $180 million venue–which it bills as a Multipurpose Cultural and Performing Arts facility–hosting sports and other large-scale indoor events. Seating capacities of at least 12,000 have previously been proposed.