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Ballpark bond issue on table in El Paso

Pacific Coast LeagueThe El Paso City Council may ask city voters to approve a massive bond issue that could reach $835 million, including up to $55 million for a new ballpark for a Class AAA Pacific Coast League team.

Last night the Council was presented a wish list of projects from groups seeking funding approval. A group has been working to bring affiliated baseball back to El Paso and had been discussing a privately financed facility, with the target the Tucson Padres (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League), as owner Jeff Moorad has been fielding offers for the team after a planned move to Escondido, Cal. fell through due to a lack of ballpark financing. There’s been a little buzz in minor-league circles this week that a sale has already taken place, but we don’t believe that to be the case yet.

El Paso hosted a successful franchise in the Class AA Texas League for many years; after Jim Paul sold the team attendance dipped and the team moved to Springfield, Missouri.

There’s a long ways to go before a dollar is allocated to a ballpark. First, the City Council needs to decide if a bonding measure is necessary (though changes are pretty good it will), finalize the list of projects included in the bonding measure and then figure out how to service the bonds. Then the voters must approve the bonding measure in a November referendum. Finally, someone must acquire the Triple-A team, as any funding would be contingent on a team ready to move in.

The El Paso group isn’t the only one seeking the team; a group from Boise has also met with Moorad about buying the team, which will surely go for more than $18 million if there’s a bidding war involved. In Boise, a team would play at a new downtown ballpark; ironically, former El Paso Diablos (Class AA; Texas League) owner Bill Pereira is involved with the Boise bid.

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