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El Paso council to debate new ballpark tonight

Pacific Coast LeagueThe El Paso City Council tonight will discuss a funding plan and possible term sheet for a new downtown ballpark for the relocating Tucson Padres (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League).

The proposal calls for a 2 percentage point hike in the city’s hotel tax, raising it to 17.5 percent — a move that’s drawn the ire of local hotel owners, but sure to be a hit with taxpayers who must approve the increase in a fall referendum. Hotel taxes, as well as other tourism taxes like rental-car taxes, are usually popular with voters because out-of-towners are seen as the ones bearing the brunt of the funding.

What will be discussed tonight: whether to move ahead with a term sheet with MountainStar Sports Group LLC, contingent on the fall referendum passing. A new ballpark would be built at the current City Hall site, in the midst of the city’s cultural district, with a tentative 2014 opening date.

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