Sunday, September 16, 2012

Rep. Acosta, Mayor Cook May Wreck Ballpark Deal

District 3 Rep. Emma Acosta 
Update: City Council voted 4-3 on most baseball-related items, with Emma Acosta, Carl Robinson, and Eddie Holguin voting 'No.' With the approval, Mayor John Cook has five days to veto the measure, though he has stated to the media that he will issue a statement regarding his coming decision either on Wednesday or Thursday. Most await the mayor's decision anxiously...

Original Post:

City Council Representative Emma Acosta could be the wrench that tears apart the deal to bring a Triple-A baseball club to El Paso. In recent days, the District 3 Rep. has stated that she may vote against City Council items intended to seal the deal and bring a new baseball stadium to Downtown, including the contract with MountainStar Sports, the group working to bring the ball club to El Paso.

Last week, the group agreed to changes in the contract that Acosta had previously stated would strengthen her support. This includes changes that would bump up the surcharge paid to the City from $0.10 to $0.50 per ticket, increase rent paid to the City by 10% every five years, and remove a non-compete clause which would have prevented other baseball teams from leasing city-owned properties. The last concession allows the Diablos to continue to operate at Cohen Stadium.

Despite the changes, Rep. Acosta has now stated to the El Paso Times that she may still vote against the deal. Without her vote, the baseball-related items on the Council agenda should still pass with a 5-3 vote. However, Mayor John Cook has stated he does not like the idea of demolishing City Hall and may veto the contract deal. If so, Council would need a 6-2 vote to override the Mayor's veto, which would not be possible without Rep. Acosta's vote.

Concept of El Paso baseball stadium
by Populous.
If the Triple-A deal falls through, the club's current owners and Pacific Coast League officials could lose faith in El Paso's desire to acquire the team and look elsewhere for groups interested in buying the ball club. In addition, the Mayor and Representative's actions may extinguish all the work done by the local group trying to bring the team to El Paso, which includes helping Downtown's revitalization with a new 9,000 seat stadium. MountainStar Sports is spending tens of millions of dollars of its own money to buy the team and has stated it will donate any profits from ticket sales to local charities.

Populous-designed Triple-A Ballpark
in Buffalo, New York.
Downtown investors could also rethink their strategies if this course destroys hopes that the baseball stadium would help the area become a more dynamic place. Each home game would draw thousands of spectators to the City's core.

It is unclear how MountainStar Sports' recent changes may affect Mayor John Cook's position and if the changes have decreased the possibility of a veto. The Mayor and City Representatives will review the above items at the September 18, 2012 Council meeting.

Triple-A Baseball Support Site:
City Council Agenda:
El Paso Times article:

Ballpark Update: Paul Foster May Donate Luther Building
City Finalizes Quality of Life Ballot Questions
Council Votes to Purchase Buildings for City Hall Relocation
City to Decide Fate of Downtown Ballpark This Week (Updated)
City May Demolish City Hall for Ballpark