The El Paso Inc. this week unwrapped the study that HKS Inc. did for the City of El Paso to
justify destroying Union Plaza find locations for all those neat downtown projects.
When HKS Inc., the consultant hired by the city to help plan the three signature bond projects, presented their findings in 2014, they identified seven similar cities.
The cities are similar in size to El Paso, have similar income levels — and they have all built arenas.
Okay, this should be good.
The three cities that were most similar to El Paso in population and median income were Toledo, as well as Greenville, South Carolina and Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Among the cities with downtown arenas, Toledo most closely mirrors El Paso. It has a ballpark, convention center and arena that work together as an economic engine, officials there say. The call it the “urban trifecta.”
So let’s see. According to Wikipedia, the Toledo Metropolitan Statistical Area has a per capita income of $20,565. The Greenville MSA’s per capita income is $19,716. The Tulsa MSA enjoys a per capita income of $20,092.
El Paso and Las Cruces MSAs have per capita incomes of $13,421 and $13,999, respectively.
Here’s a broader picture of the relative economic data.
Wow, HKS really had to reach to find places with successful arenas for El Paso to model. All those MSAs’ per capita income is about 50 percent higher than El Paso’s. And I’m afraid that extra 50 percent is where the discretionary income is. You know, the money you don’t have to spend on food and rent and property taxes. The money you can squander on concerts and basketball games.
Those guys at HKS have discretionary income.
The city of El Paso paid HKS $724,480 to research the local market and designate potential sites for the signature bond projects, including the 12,700-seat multipurpose arena, according to documents obtained through an open records request.
You’d think for that kind of money the City should have gotten a better report.