Members of the El Paso City Council have reaffirmed in a 6 to 2 vote their support for the construction of a downtown multipurpose arena.
The vote came after two council representatives proposed suspending that project, as well as the building of a proposed Mexican American Cultural Center, due to COVID-19 economics.
According to Robert Cortinas, Chief Financial Officer with the city, El Paso is currently looking at a budget shortfall of at least $26 million, owing to decreased revenues caused by the virus outbreak.
In their proposal, Representatives Alexandra Annello and Claudio Rodriguez called for the suspension of any archaeological study, demolition, design, and construction work associated with either project.
Both projects are to be paid for out of Quality of Life bonds that were passed by El Paso voters in 2012, bonds that have so far funded over sixty facility and recreational projects across the city.
Although $180 million in bond funds have been designated for the construction of what would be the Multipurpose Performing Arts and Entertainment Center, city officials have indicated that the price tag to build the arena may be higher now because of the delays in getting the project off the ground, as well as the increased cost of construction.
While a definitive timeline for the arena’s construction has not yet been announced, design work on the Mexican American Cultural Center has been underway for several months, with a final blueprint expected to be revealed in October.
The arena project has been the subject of great controversy because of its proposed location in the historic downtown neighborhood of Duranguito. It has been several times unsuccessfully challenged in court.
By Garry Boulard