After years of playing the part of disinterested bystanders, MountainStar Sports came out with an ad this week in support of the downtown arena.
They got a lot of blowback from the ballpark. Some El Pasoans felt that the City shouldn’t be financing the billionaires’ hobby for limited public benefit. So MountainStar sat out the discussion about the arena. Till now.
So what changed?
Maybe MountainStar felt they were losing control of City Council. The nice people behind MountainStar have a secret identity known as the Borderplex Alliance. While the Borderplex Alliance includes many members not associated with MountainStar, all of MountainStar’s prinicipals are members of the Borderplex Alliance. Woody Hunt was the Founding Chairman of the Borderplex Alliance. Alejandra de la Vega Foster is currently one of the Co-Chairs. Woody Hunt and Paul Foster are on the Executive Committee. Josh Hunt is on the board.
. . . dedicated to economic development and policy advocacy in the El Paso, Texas; Las Cruces, New Mexico; and Cd. Juárez, Chihuahua region.
. . .
The Borderplex Alliance provides regional, national, and international development, advocacy, representation, and support to businesses looking to expand their operations within the Borderplex region. The organization also serves as an advocate for the region in state and national capitals, promoting the economic prosperity of the region and the strength of the U.S.-Mexico relationship.
Perhaps they’re working quietly behind the scenes towards those goals, but their efforts are indiscernible and their results non-existent. Except for an infusion of financial capital from publicly funded infrastructure projects, El Paso is in an economic malaise.
For MountainStar, economic development means more publicly funded arenas for their sports teams.
(Let me remind you that economists are in general agreement that stadiums and arenas aren’t tools for economic development.)
MountainStar is susceptible to blowback from their new position. MountainStar’s support for the downtown arena reinforces the narrative that poor people are being displaced so rich people can watch basketball games from luxury suites. And their late advocacy appears to show that they think they’re losing the game.
That they’re desperate.
Do they think that they can influence the judge’s opinion in the City’s appeal of the court’s ruling that the arena couldn’t be built to accommodate sports? The American judicial system isn’t supposed to work that way.
More likely, in my opinion, cracks have begun to appear in the resolve of our elected officials to pursue the court case, and MountainStar’s PR push is intended to show City Council that the people still want a downtown arena.
Of course, it could backfire. As of this morning, fewer than 1,000 people had clicked on the button that shows support for the arena, and as of right now, the ad has disappeared from the El Paso Times website.