El Paso Arena Faces Identity Crisis

A state district judge has determined El Paso, Texas, officials can proceed with plans to construct a $180 million multipurpose facility downtown, as long as it’s not built as a sports arena.  

Proposed Downtown El Paso Arena
2015 artist rendering
– Proposed Downtown El Paso Arena
Judge Amy Clark Meachum ruled Aug. 7 that the facility could be used for performing arts and similar entertainment but would not be suitable for sporting events. She also ruled that the city can’t use outside funding to later modify the venue into a sports arena.

However, some say ambiguity in the ruling will make it hard to proceed. “Unfortunately, [Meachum] has not defined what she meant by those terms and we’re put in the position of having to deal with ambiguity in the final judgment,” city attorney Sylvia Borunda Firth said in a press conference, as reported by the El Paso Times. “We would have preferred for there to not be any ambiguity so we could clearly proceed,” Borunda Firth said. 

At issue is a $473 million bond measure approved by voters in 2012 that did not specifically include the word “sports” on it and didn’t specify that the arena would be built downtown, which would require the demolition of existing buildings. 
Groups opposing construction say voters did not approve a sports venue, although city officials counter that boxing matches and basketball tournaments were publicly stated as potential events in the facility. The city may appeal the decision.