Reversing a previous district court decision, a Texas appeals court ruled Wednesday that a planned new El Paso arena can host sports.
Approved by voters as part of a 2012 bond referendum, the planned venue has been met some with controversy. Plans to construct it on a site that includes the Duaranguito neighborhood have been met with backlash, as opponents have contended that residents would be displaced by the arena’s construction and that historic buildings would be torn down in the process. Furthermore, opponents questioned whether the bond referendum language allowed for the venue to be used for sports.
Last year, a district court judge ruled that construction of the venue could move forward, but that it could not be a sports arena. While the ruling stated that the city had the clearance to construct a multipurpose performing arts and entertainment venue in downtown El Paso, it also found that the voter-approved bonds could not be used for the construction of a sports arena. That decision was effectively reversed by the Third Court of Appeals on Wednesday, but a hearing seeking a temporary injunction to halt demolition of existing buildings to make way for the venue is slated for November 15. More from the El Paso Times:
“This is a monumental win for El Paso,” said [El Paso Mayor Dee] Margo, adding that entertainment includes sports.
The appeals court ruling also allows the city to use “funding from other resources” to modify, complete and enhance the facility for sports uses, the mayor said.
The city has agreed not to begin demolition before Nov. 19. An official date for demolition has not been set.
“My attorneys are very busy preparing for relief from the courts before that date and we are confident that the neighborhood will be safe,” architectural historian Max Grossman said in a statement.
If used for sports, a new El Paso venue could be a draw for tournaments and other sporting events, or perhaps even a full-time professional team.
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