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MountainStar, El Paso amend proposed ballpark lease

Pacific Coast LeagueMountainStar Sports Group, working to bring the Tucson Padres (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) to a new downtown El Paso ballpark, has agreed to several lease changes designed to bring more money to city coffers and drops a noncompete clause with the El Paso Diablos (independent; American Association).

The changes come after some City Council members raised objections with MountainStar Sports over the original term sheet that passed the City Council originally by a 6-2 vote. Mayor John Cook had brought up the possibility of vetoing a lease at Tuesday’s council meeting, which would require six voters to override. At least one city councilmember had been quoted as wavering in her support for the lease; the concessions are designed to address council concerns.

The concessions come in two areas. First, MountainStar Sports Group has agreed to remove the noncompete provision that would have prevented the city from extending the Diablos lease at Cohen Stadium. Under the new terms, the Diablos could continue to play at Cohen Stadium if El Paso and the Diablos reach an agreement to extend the lease; it removes Cohen Stadium as a concern at all for a Triple-A team.

The second area of concessions cover additional revenues possible for the city. A ticket surcharge will be fifty cents, from the original plan to charge a dime; in addition, the ownership group has agreed to increase the base rent, ticket surcharge amount, and the parking fee by 10% every five years throughout the life of the lease to account for inflation over time.  

MountainStar Sports Group had to confer with the Pacific Coast League and acquire a special release for the concessions, and received a sign off from the League Saturday morning.

“These concerns were legitimate from their standpoint, and we felt we needed to take a look at what we could do to resolve some of them, and if possible, all of them,” said Josh Hunt, one of the owners of MountainStar Sports Group, via press release. “We worked for over a week with the City Manager and City Staff to iron out these details, and we had to go back to the PCL to secure their approvals. We feel we’re making adjustments that will help, and we appreciate the City’s resolve to work through this with us. We respect and appreciate the Council members who let us know that they had concerns.”

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