Months after voting to move forward with a proposed arena site, El Paso officials are now considering another location.
The alternative being discussed is to build the arena at the site of the El Paso Convention Center. This proposal is surfacing after city officials began to seriously consider a site just south of the convention center, an idea that proved to be controversial.
In October, city officials were given permission to use eminent domain in the acquisition process for the site, which included blocks of residences. This has proven to be a hot-button issue, as has the question of whether historic properties could be demolished to make way for the arena.
The backlash, which has included an effort to recall district 8 city representative Courtney Niland, has been persistent since the plan was revealed. For right now, city officials are focusing on some financial concerns that could be eased by combining the arena with a convention center overhaul. More from KVIA ABC 7:
“We own that entire footprint,” Niland said, “We budgeted $20 million for site acquisition. That is $20 million we could save the taxpayer.”
One of the reasons the city wants to build the arena Downtown is state incentives. If the arena is built within 1,000 feet of the convention center, it qualifies to keep some of the state sales tax money it collects. “We can claw back state sales tax, probably to the tune of $25 million,” Niland said.
The City Rep. said the $25 million would be added to the $180 million the community approved for the project. “We would be able to deliver a better (arena) without having to put more burden on the taxpayer,” Niland said.
The arena was authorized by voters through a quality of life bond referendum in 2012.