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Will El Paso ballpark spur downtown development? Insiders of mixed mind

New El Paso ballpark

One rationale for building a $50-million ballpark in downtown El Paso for the relocating Tucson Padres (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League): to spur economic development. Will it work?

The city is moving ahead with a plan to build a new ballpark at the current City Hall location and finding a new home for local government functions. By bringing in pro baseball, say local officials, the city’s quality of life will improve and downtown could receive a financial stimulus. In the short run, that’s certainly true — you don’t spend $50 million on a construction project without a short-term boost — but in the long run, the opinion of the ballpark’s impact is considerably more mixed. Some point to several new developments — like a new hotel, new restaurants and more — as signs downtown development is on the uptick, while others say the ballpark will have no impact whatsoever and will actually hurt the city by taking land off the tax rolls with the move of City Hall:

“The net benefit to Downtown isn’t necessarily the ballpark if you have vacant property,” Gordon Foster, from local realty firm Best Co., told El Paso Inc. “Baseball means nothing to me from a business and real estate view.”

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