The El Paso Times today reports on a debate among three of the mayoral candidates, sponsored by everyone’s favorite higher-tax advocates, the Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce.
If there is a qualified candidate among the eight registered, we’ll never know, because the Chamber only deigned to invite five, and only three qualified for the debate, according to the criteria established by GEPCoC.
The Times says the arena was the hot topic.
“My concern is the entire process and the delays,” said [Dee] Margo, a former state representative and past member of the El Paso Independent School District Board of Managers. “The city sold bonds. We need to get the job done.”
I’m pretty sure the City hasn’t sold the bonds for the arena yet. Have they? I guarantee I’ll be wrong about some things, and if this is one of them, I’d appreciate you letting me know.
But that’s not the shocker.
All three candidates [Dee Margo, Emma Acosta, and David Saucedo] acknowledged that they don’t think there is sufficient funding for the arena. Each offered different solutions for how to address the problem.
Whoa. We’re supposed to throw $180 million at the arena. That’s not enough?
The Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, South Carolina, holds up to 17,300 people and it only cost $63 million build in 1996. That’s $92.6 million in 2016 dollars.
The Huntington Center in Toledo, Ohio, cost $105 million when it was built in 2007. That’s $117 million in 2016 dollars. It holds up to 9,341 in concert mode.
The BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, cost $196 million when it was built in 2005 ($244 million in 2016 dollars), but that place is a Cadillac. It holds 19,199 for concerts, and features the following amenities, according to Wikipedia:
The BOK Center holds 37 public restrooms—12 men’s restrooms, 16 women’s restrooms, and 9 family restrooms—with 300 toilets and urinals. Dressing rooms with wooden lockers, hydrotherapy and workout rooms, a players lounge, locker rooms for game officials, and office space for coaches, trainers, and equipment managers are also located within the building. The arena’s hanging scoreboard, considered one of the most advanced in the country, is suspended above the arena floor and measures 50,000 pounds (23,000 kg) and 30 by 33 feet (9.1 m × 10.1 m), making use of four 8 by 14 feet (2.4 m × 4.3 m) HD screens, four 8 by 8 feet (2.4 m × 2.4 m) HD screens, a wrap-around 9-foot (2.7 m) HD screen, and another 3-foot (0.91 m) wrap-around HD screen. Designed by Forty Forty Agency and manufactured by Daktronics, the project received $3.6 million in private donations, with some funds going toward an advanced video recording system.
Since it was built, the BOK Center has lost two of its three anchor tenants, the WNBA Tulsa Shock and the Arena Football Tulsa Talons. I’m thinking that Tulsa taxpayers are wishing they’d scrimped a little.
Does El Paso really need wooden lockers and a hanging scoreboard when we don’t even have an anchor tenant?
Remember, HKS Urban Planning, the site selection consultants, said that Toledo, Tulsa, and Greenville, South Carolina, were the three cities whose size and income most resembled El Paso, even though each of those MSAs’ per capita income is close to 50 percent more than El Paso’s.
El Paso has some of the lowest construction trade wages in the nation. And $180 million isn’t enough?