After much rancor, a federal lawsuit and assertions that voters were being ignored, those same voters roared back with a vengeance, overwhelmingly approving a rise in the hotel/motel tax to fund a new downtown ballpark for a Triple-A Pacific Coast League team.
Proposition 3, which raised the hotel/motel tax by two percentage points, with the proceeds going to help fund a $50-million ballpark project at the current City Hall site, passed with 86,327 votes, or 60.49 percent of those voting. It was widely viewed as a proxy for a vote on the ballpark project itself, although the lease between the city and MountainStar Sports, which bought the Tucson Padres (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) in anticipation of a 2014 El Paso move, ensures city funding no matter if the tax hike passed.
“As far as I’m concerned, we have already won because our people started this grass-roots organization,” El Paso lawyer Stephanie Townsend Allala, a leader of opposition to the plan, told the El Paso Times. “The quest for good government doesn’t end with the vote.”
Unless a federal judge takes up the issue of ballpark funding violating the Voting Rights Act — something virtually every legal expert we’ve talked with thinks is highly unlikely — the downtown ballpark is now a done deal, barring some unexpected development.
RELATED STORIES: El Paso ballpark debate enters final stretch; El Paso: ballpark will happen with or without hotel tax; El Paso: No federal issues at play in ballpark lawsuit; MountainStar Sports takes control of Tucson Padres; El Paso ballpark foes file suit in federal court to shut down project; MountainStar Sports buys Tucson Padres; Opponents: El Paso ballpark debate not over; Mayor won’t veto ballpark lease; PCL to El Paso in 2014; El Paso ballpark approval squeaks through; PCL approves move of T-Padres to El Paso — if lease approved; Rickey: El Paso could lose Triple-A team if ballpark not approved; MountainStar: Deal to bring Triple-A to El Paso could fall through if ballpark not approved; MountainStar, El Paso amend ballpark lease; El Paso mayor: I can still scuttle ballpark deal; Petition to halt El Paso ballpark submitted, but may be too late; El Paso moves forward with ballpark planning; El Paso group pledges profits to charity; Effort to thwart El Paso ballpark falls short; Protesters to “Occupy City Hall” over new El Paso ballpark; Hotel tax on El Paso ballot; no direct choice for voters; Will El Paso ballpark spur downtown development? Insiders of mixed mind; El Paso opponents: We want ballpark on fall ballot; PCL approves El Paso purchase of T-Padres; Foster: Opposition to new El Paso ballpark not a surprise; Opposition to El Paso ballpark emerges; Hoteliers: We don’t want to pay for new El Paso ballpark; El Paso group: we’re one step closer to buying PCL team; Pacific Coast League expected to decide El Paso bid for baseball this week; El Paso: Let’s sell Cohen Stadium to Tigua tribe; T-Padres back in Kino Stadium for 2013; One side effect of new El Paso ballpark: return of UTEP baseball; El Paso ownership group pitches PCL; El Paso approves ballpark for Triple-A team; First look: El Paso ballpark renderings; Diablos casualty of new El Paso ballpark; Downtown ballpark planning moving forward in El Paso; El Paso to debate ballpark bond issue; El Paso group seeking downtown ballpark, T-Pads; Moorad to Escondido: We need quick action on ballpark; Obstacles to new ballparks in California: not as bleak as expected; Escondido moving forward with business park on proposed ballpark property; City, not Moorad group, to acquire Escondido land; Escondido mayor: Time to scrap new-ballpark plan; Moorad: Leaving Padres in Tucson a possibility; Escondido ballpark vote put off indefinitely; Escondido ballpark vote delayed;State government could kill Escondido T-Pods ballpark; New for 2011: Tucson Padres; Escondido approves Triple-A ballpark — with reservations; Moorad group, Escondido sign MOU for new ballpark; Escondido council fills vacancy in advance of ballpark vote; Crunch time for new Escondido ballpark; Padres raise ante in Escondido ballpark negotiations; Escondido ballpark vote delayed again; new council will decide; Padres make it official: Beavers to Tucson in 2011; Election shows mixed support for new Escondido ballpark; Tuesday elections could determine fate of Bevos; Bevos to Tucson for 2011; Escondido ballpark vote delayed after pollution found at site; Fate of Bevos in the air until November, maybe December; Padres pitch one-sided lease to Escondido; Escondido: Show us some money, Padres; Escondido in, San Marcos out of Bevos ballpark mix
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