The City of El Paso has received the go-ahead to begin demolition of parts of an historic neighborhood as part of a preliminary plan to build a new multi-purpose arena.
After months of review, the Texas Supreme Court has ruled in favor of discarding an earlier emergency injunction that has prevented El Paso from leveling buildings in the Duranguito neighborhood.
Preservationists and community activists have long argued that the downtown neighborhood should be saved, owing to the many one- and two-story 19th century structures in existence there, filing a series of legal challenges in the process to stop any demolition.
But city officials have maintained that after reviewing a number of other potential locations the Duranguito neighborhood, roughly half a mile to the south of the El Paso Convention and Performing Art Center, made the most sense as the site for the new arena.
As proposed, the arena would be used for everything from concerts to sporting events.
The Supreme Court ruling is a decided defeat for those who wanted to keep Duranguito intact. Despite the decision, arena opponents still have another petition pending before the higher court about the project.
That petition contends that the project is illegal for the simple reason that the 2012 Quality of Life bonds approved by voters to pay for the new arena never said anything about the structure being used for sporting activities.
According to reports, it is expected that the proposed arena could ultimately cost more than $250 million to build.
Although the exact seating capacity for the new structure has not been determined, studies for the project have suggested it could house anywhere from 12,000 to 14,500 seats.
The arena project was officially unveiled by the city in the fall of 2016. At that time city officials thought the structure could be built over a roughly three-year period and open sometime in 2020.
By Garry Boulard
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