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Friday, Aug 22nd

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El Paso ballpark debate enters final stretch

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Proposed El Paso ballpark

The debate over public funding of a new downtown El Paso ballpark enters the final stretch, with both sides making a push to convince voters to support them in the upcoming elections.

The immediate issue: whether or not to approve a 2 percentage point hike in the city's hotel/motel tax to mostly fund a $50-million ballpark project, which will include tearing down City Hall. MountainStar Sports, owner of the Tucson Padres (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League), has a lease with the city to play at the new downtown ballpark beginning in 2014. City leaders say the new downtown ballpark will happen with or without the tax hike; if rejected by voters, the city will need to find another funding mechanism to build the ballpark.

Opponents want to see the hotel tax rejected and are throwing up an alternative: a $25-million renovation of Cohen Stadium, the former home to Double-A ball in El Paso. Now, it's hard to say whether this is a viable alternative: the agreement to bring in the T-Padres clearly calls for a new downtown ballpark, and legally the city can't just substitute what many would consider to be a lesser facility without voiding the entire contract. We just don't see this as a viable option, but we're guessing the fact it's being raised will be enough to confuse some voters.

In the end, the issue really isn't the ballpark; opponents are using it as a platform to criticize city leadership. El Paso attorney Stephanie Townsend Allala, who is spearheading opposition to the ballpark, framed the issue in different terms:

"Given the past indictments and convictions for corruption, I think that our city leaders should be bending over backwards,” Allala said, “to let the public know that the era of backdoor deals… is ended.”

RELATED STORIES: El Paso: ballpark will happen with or without hotel tax; El Paso: No federal issues at play in ballpark lawsuit; MountainStar Sports takes control of Tucson Padres; El Paso ballpark foes file suit in federal court to shut down project; MountainStar Sports buys Tucson Padres; Opponents: El Paso ballpark debate not overMayor won't veto ballpark lease; PCL to El Paso in 2014El Paso ballpark approval squeaks throughPCL approves move of T-Padres to El Paso -- if lease approvedRickey: El Paso could lose Triple-A team if ballpark not approved; MountainStar: Deal to bring Triple-A to El Paso could fall through if ballpark not approved; MountainStar, El Paso amend ballpark leaseEl Paso mayor: I can still scuttle ballpark dealPetition to halt El Paso ballpark submitted, but may be too lateEl Paso moves forward with ballpark planningEl Paso group pledges profits to charityEffort to thwart El Paso ballpark falls shortProtesters to "Occupy City Hall" over new El Paso ballparkHotel tax on El Paso ballot; no direct choice for votersWill El Paso ballpark spur downtown development? Insiders of mixed mindEl Paso opponents: We want ballpark on fall ballotPCL approves El Paso purchase of T-PadresFoster: Opposition to new El Paso ballpark not a surpriseOpposition to El Paso ballpark emergesHoteliers: We don't want to pay for new El Paso ballparkEl Paso group: we're one step closer to buying PCL teamPacific Coast League expected to decide El Paso bid for baseball this week; El Paso: Let's sell Cohen Stadium to Tigua tribeT-Padres back in Kino Stadium for 2013One side effect of new El Paso ballpark: return of UTEP baseballEl Paso ownership group pitches PCLEl Paso approves ballpark for Triple-A teamFirst look: El Paso ballpark renderingsDiablos casualty of new El Paso ballparkDowntown ballpark planning moving forward in El PasoEl Paso to debate ballpark bond issueEl Paso group seeking downtown ballpark, T-PadsMoorad to Escondido: We need quick action on ballparkObstacles to new ballparks in California: not as bleak as expectedEscondido moving forward with business park on proposed ballpark propertyCity, not Moorad group, to acquire Escondido landEscondido mayor: Time to scrap new-ballpark planMoorad: Leaving Padres in Tucson a possibilityEscondido ballpark vote put off indefinitelyEscondido ballpark vote delayed;State government could kill Escondido T-Pods ballparkNew for 2011: Tucson PadresEscondido approves Triple-A ballpark -- with reservationsMoorad group, Escondido sign MOU for new ballparkEscondido council fills vacancy in advance of ballpark voteCrunch time for new Escondido ballparkPadres raise ante in Escondido ballpark negotiationsEscondido ballpark vote delayed again; new council will decidePadres make it official: Beavers to Tucson in 2011Election shows mixed support for new Escondido ballparkTuesday elections could determine fate of BevosBevos to Tucson for 2011Escondido ballpark vote delayed after pollution found at siteFate of Bevos in the air until November, maybe DecemberPadres pitch one-sided lease to EscondidoEscondido: Show us some money, PadresEscondido in, San Marcos out of Bevos ballpark mix

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