Paul Foster, one of the four owners of a potential El Paso Triple-A team, says opposition to public funding of a new downtown ballpark was expected and understandable, but a purchase of the team is at hand.
Foster, along with his wife Alejandra de la Vega Foster, businessman Woody Hunt and his son, Josh Hunt, are buying the Tucson Padres (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) from San Diego Padres minority owner Jeff Moorad and his investors, who bought the team with the intention of placing it in a new Escondido (Cal.) ballpark. That effort failed, as did Moorad’s attempt to buy the majority share of the Padres, leading to the decision to sell the Triple-A franchise. (We’re guessing Moorad and crew won’t be too sad over the sale of the team: they paid a reported $17 million for the Portland Beavers and are selling the T-Padres for $20.5 million — a number we’ve heard from several owners. Assuming the team basically broke even the last two years in Tucson, they’ll show a nice little profit.)
In recent weeks opposition to the plan to raise the local hotel tax by two percentage points to pay for a $50-million new ballpark on the current CIty Hall site has emerged, through it’s not clear how much of it is local El Paso politics and how much of it relates to the actual proposal. Foster told El Paso Inc. the opposition was not a surprise:
“I think opposition is to be expected,” Foster said. “We would like nothing more than for everybody to be supportive, but that is not the case.”
Indeed, there are some valid reasons to oppose the deal: it’s a lot of money for a single downtown project, and it leaves the location of a future City Hall hanging. Even though there’s a petition drive launched, it doesn’t appear to have enough steam to derail the process.
Under a ballpark plan passed by the city, a new $50-million ballpark could open for the 2014 season.
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