Despite a recent decision of the Texas Supreme Court denying their petition for review, opponents of a proposed $180 million multi-purpose arena in downtown El Paso have vowed to return to the state’s highest court for a rehearing.
Last month the court declined to take up the case launched by preservationists and community activists who have said that the original ballot language for the Quality of Life Bonds needed to fund the project did not specify that the arena would be used for sporting events.
The challenge has been spurred by the site selected by the City of El Paso to build the arena: the Duranguito neighborhood, a small collection of houses and shops dating to the 19th century that opponents have said is historic and should be preserved.
In 2019 the Third Court of Appeals in Austin affirmed that El Paso was within its rights to build the arena, even if it is to be used for sporting events.
In making its January ruling, the Texas Supreme Court was essentially denying a rehearing to the plaintiffs.
Now opponents of the project say they will once again ask for a rehearing before the state’s highest court. That petition for that new hearing is expected to be submitted before March 4.
In an interview with the El Paso Times, Veronica Carbajal, an attorney with the Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid representing arena opponents, said the issue goes beyond what will happen in Duranguito and concerns the veracity of ballot language in bond elections.
Carbajal said that when the Third Court of Appeals ruled in favor of El Paso, they were saying that the city “has a discretion to build a sports arena, because sports are entertaining, therefore a form of entertainment, [and] that’s a very dangerous outcome.”
In response to the quest for a rehearing, the City of El Paso has issued a statement saying in part: “We are not surprised by the opposition’s continued efforts to prolong the litigation which unfortunately continues to delay the project, increase the cost to taxpayers, and impacts our community’s economic development.”
By Garry Boulard
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