The Mayoral Candidates’ Alternate Universe: We’re Doomed

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?

We’re doomed.

BOK Center photo by OkiefromoklaOwn work, Public Domain, Link.


  1. Isn’t Saucedo against the arena? I have other issues with him but I might just have to give him my vote. Let’s be honest, the other five don’t have a chance in hell, so he’s our best bet at stopping this disaster.

    1. He’s against the arena in Union Plaza. He wants to put it out at Cohen, a proposition of dubious prospect.

    2. He’s not against the arena but he is for putting it at Cohen Stadium. The city would save 20 to 30 million right there because there wouldn’t be court fights (which last 2 to 3 years) about eminent domain, nor would we have to buy the property (which screws the hell out of the rich boys who bought up property down there) because the city owns it. The city is also bullshitting people when they say the arena HAS to be downtown because of their ordinance. Another vote to void the ordinance and declare Cohen the spot wouldn’t be that difficult. The only people who’d complain would be the hotel owners (who’d immediately start buying up all available land around Cohen) and the rich property owners. I’m probably going for Saucedo because he’s NOT an insider and he’s already got his own money.

    3. I think you’re wrong, he has no experience. He’s not focus in human development, have you taken a look at all the home less shelters?

      1. Seriously, what does he, as a private citizen, have to do with the number of homeless shelters. and what do you mean by human development? His job, if elected, will be to be fiscally responsible to the taxpayers, provide the required services the city, state, and federal government demands by law, and try to bring industry to the city

    1. He’s educated, articulate, owns a cowboy hat.

      I wonder why the Chamber of Commerce didn’t invite him?

  2. “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.”

    This is wrong and it is the fault of KTSM #elpasoproudlycorrupt. The GEPCC did not establish criteria for participation for the televised debate. EVER. They simply chose the 3 establishment candidates they wanted to hear from.

    The questionnaire that was sent to candidates had to do with the intention of the GEPCC to publish a voter guide. The word limit was 600 (6 questions – 100 words each) My submission came to 425 words.

    Thank you.

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