Advocates say we need the arena as an engine of economic development.
That’s not how economic development works.
If you want to increase the wealth of an economy (i.e., the economic development), you have to increase the productivity of the workers.
(That is not exactly true. If you increase the productivity of any of the factors of production — land, labor, capital, or entrepreneurship/innovation — you increase the wealth of the economy. But you don’t increase the wealth of a community by providing more leisure class facilities.)
The advocates for the arena propose that by offering more facilities for the leisure class, that is, Quality of Life amenities, we can attract more businesses from out of town who will bring more capital or entrepreneurship/innovation to the region. But that’s going the long way around to do it. If you want more labor productivity, why not just provide more job training for the residents?
Unfortunately, getting the City of El Paso into the entertainment business extracts more taxes from the property owners. Property owners, in turn, have less money to spend in the market. That leads to a downturn in economic activity, which is bad for economic development.
Also, businesses look at property taxes when they consider relocating. So far, the City has granted property tax incentives coming to move here. That means that all the things that the taxpayers pay for when they pay their taxes, the new companies moving here get for free. All the things — streets, public safety, those Quality of Life amenities — that we pay for, the new companies get for free.