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Council scraps downtown El Paso arena plan

Arena DigestAfter plenty of public testimony decrying the plan and hearing that a new facility can be built using already allocated funds, the City Council voted to scrap a downtown El Paso arena plan, diverting the money toward improving existing city buildings.

First approved by voters in a 2012 referendum, the plan has been attacked by those who argue it negatively impacts the historic nature of El Paso’s downtown Duranguito neighborhood and not positively economically impact downtown residents due to gentrification. Proponents say it will bring in sorely needed revenue to downtown El Paso, between events, meetings and larger conventions than the existing convention center can host.

Two new Council members voted to scrap the El Paso arena shortly after being sworn in. As noted, public comments on the decision ran the gamut, per the El Paso Times:

El Paso County Commissioner David Stout said he believes a large part of his successful reelection campaign was based on broad opposition to the arena among voters. He said the same was true of the newest council members and their election represented a mandate to put a halt to the arena project.

“Please do the right thing,” Stout said. “Please listen to the voters…please pay no heed to the misinformation and gaslighting that has been spewed over the last six years. Please help us save Duranguito.”

Others supported staying the course with the project, including El Paso billionaire Paul Foster and Downtown business owners, who in a written statement called the multi-purpose venue a “critical piece of the (Downtown) revitalization effort.” Still, most speakers supported abandoning the project, saying voters never approved of demolishing Duranguito to construct an arena.

Now that the El Paso arena has been scrapped, watch for some intense debates as to where the $163 million set aside for the project will end up.

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