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Opposition to El Paso ballpark surfaces

Pacific Coast LeagueIt wouldn’t be a real ballpark if there wasn’t real opposition, as petitions opposing public funding of a new downtown El Paso ballpark are now being circulated.

In fact, we can’t recall any effort for a new ballpark where opponents didn’t organize on some level, whether it be citizens groups going to court to oppose professional baseball (as was the case in San Rafael) or launching petition drives to persuade elected officials to heed their wishes (as was the case in Wilmington, N.C.). So seeing a petition drive emerge in El Paso is hardly unique.

The arguments raised by ballpark opponents are fairly standard (lacking a NIMBY angle, as the ballpark is slated for downtown El Paso): the ballpark-financing deal was made in secret (as are all real-estate transactions in every major city); the existing ballpark is good enough (no, it’s utterly untrue Cohen Stadium meets Triple-A specs or could easily be renovated to meet them); El Paso is smaller than Tucson, and baseball has issues there (apples vs. oranges arguments and totally misleading — Triple-A thrives in markets smaller than El Paso, such as Des Moines and Reno); and the issue should be put before voters (totally valid). 

It’s not clear how effective a petition drive will be: there’s no mechanism to force a referendum question on the fall ballot, and absent an utterly resounding number of signatures — like a quarter million or so — it’s hard to see how this drive could have much of an impact.

Under a ballpark plan passed by the city, a new $50-million ballpark could open for the 2014 season, with a local group purchasing the Tucson Padres (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League).

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