After months of often rancorous debate regarding the construction of a $180 million multi-purpose arena in downtown El Paso, the project may be shelved due to the economic fallout surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak.
Members of the El Paso City Council are considering a vote to suspend the project, based on a proposal by two members who are also calling to suspend any demolition related to the project, as well as design work and archaeological surveying.
The proposed Multipurpose Performing Arts and Entertainment Center has been an ongoing headache for city officials since it was first announced in the fall of 2016.
Opponents of the project, objecting to a plan to build it in the city’s historic Duranguito neighborhood, have held rallies, argued before the council, and filed a series of suits in court to stop it from going forward.
Although earlier this year the Texas State Supreme Court handed the City of El Paso an important victory when it said it would not review litigation on the matter, opponents have filed a new suit in the Eighth Court of Appeals of El Paso County challenging the project.
In a statement given to the El Paso Times, Mayor Dee Margo, a long-time proponent of the arena, characterized the proposal by city representatives Alexsandra Annello and Claudio Rodriguez as “politicizing the pandemic.”
The proposal as submitted to the council by Annello and Rodriguez specifically calls for “action on suspending the construction” of the arena “in order to diminish the financial impact of the COVID-19 impact and reduce the debt burden.”
By Garry Boulard
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