Crowder on the Arena

This week David Crowder unpacks the arena rebate, and things aren’t what the City told us.

From an article titled Wait, what? It’s about a hotel, not an arena? in the El Paso Inc.:

After months of debate over where the city should build its $180 million arena, several El Paso City Council members say they haven’t got crucial information they need to make that decision and even feel misled.

The biggest question that hasn’t been answered, they agree, is whether the arena must be within 1,000 feet of the Downtown convention center in order for the city to qualify for millions of dollars in state incentives.

The answer, according to state officials contacted by El Paso Inc., is “no.”

Whoa. The arena doesn’t have to be within 1,000 feet of the Convention Center? That’s a surprise.

Remember what District 8 Representative Cortney Niland said in an El Paso Inc. interview back on November 21?

[B]uilding the arena within 1,000 feet of the El Paso Convention Center would allow the city to recover about $25 million in sales tax paid to the state, city Rep. Cortney Niland said Friday.

That could allow the city to increase the arena’s price tag from $180 million approved by voters in the 2012 bond election to $205 million, she said.

. . .

Niland said an additional $25 million is an important reason for sticking with the Union Plaza site immediately south of the convention center.

“We would lose it if we picked the other site,” she said.

News flash: It ain’t so.

Kevin Lyons, a spokesman with the Comptroller of Public Accounts in Ausin, said participaiton in the state’s incentive program depends on two things: first, having one or more large, convention hotels, not an arena, near a convention center; and second, the city having an ownership stake in at least one hotel.

HB 1964, which brought El Paso under the umbrella of Sections 351.001(2) and (7), of the Tax Code, an existing law that encourages convention center hotels, reads

(E) a municipality with a population of 640,000
or more that:
(i) is located on an international border;
(ii) has adopted a capital improvement plan
for the construction or expansion of a convention center facility.

Has El Paso adopted a capital improvement plan for the expansion of the convention center facility? Maybe the City was counting on the arena to cover that requirement.

This whole project has been marred by disinformation, misinformation, and lies. Too many people involved aren’t inclined to tell the truth.

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