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Petition to halt El Paso ballpark submitted, but may be too late

Proposed El Paso ballpark

Another set of petitions designed to stop construction of a new El Paso ballpark has been submitted, but organizers may be too late to stop the process.

Petition-drive organizers submitted enough signatures to force the El Paso City Council to consider an ordinance that would halt the demolition of City Hall to make way for a new ballpark for the relocating Tucson Padres (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League). Under the plan, a hike in local hotel taxes would help pay for a new ballpark on the downtown site where City Hall is currently located; city operations would move to other downtown locations.

It’s a convoluted process for a petition to actually succeed in derailing the ballpark project. First. the City Council can reject the proposed ordinance (which is expected). If this happens, petition organizers would need to submit new petitions to force the ordinance on the next general-election ballot. Since the deadline has passed to place anything else on the November ballots, the next time El Paso voters could be asked to vote on the ordinance would be May 2013 — well after the demolition of City Hall and the beginnings of ballpark construction.

In fact, the wheels are turning to approve the project: the City Council will likely preliminarily approve ordinances furthering the ballpark next Tueday, with final approval expected Sept. 18.

At issue: a $50-million set to open for the 2014 season.

The next step: the city will issue a Request for Qualifications for the actual design of the ballpark.

Image courtesy City of El Paso.

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