After much rancor, a federal lawsuit and assertions that voters were being ignored, those same voters roared back with a vengeance, overwhelmingly approving a rise in the hotel/motel tax to fund a new downtown ballpark for a Triple-A Pacific Coast League team.
Proposition 3, which raised the hotel/motel tax by two percentage points, with the proceeds going to help fund a $50-million ballpark project at the current City Hall site, passed with 86,327 votes, or 60.49 percent of those voting. It was widely viewed as a proxy for a vote on the ballpark project itself, although the lease between the city and MountainStar Sports, which bought the Tucson Padres (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) in anticipation of a 2014 El Paso move, ensures city funding no matter if the tax hike passed.
“As far as I’m concerned, we have already won because our people started this grass-roots organization,” El Paso lawyer Stephanie Townsend Allala, a leader of opposition to the plan, told the El Paso Times. “The quest for good government doesn’t end with the vote.”
Unless a federal judge takes up the issue of ballpark funding violating the Voting Rights Act — something virtually every legal expert we’ve talked with thinks is highly unlikely — the downtown ballpark is now a done deal, barring some unexpected development.
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