The Problem With Economic Growth

The problem with using Economic Growth as a rationale for building the arena is that the arena isn’t creating any new wealth. An arena doesn’t offer anything we don’t have now. An arena isn’t making a bigger pie. An arena is just re-slicing the pie we have.

There are a limited number of entertainment dollars in El Paso. There is a limited amount of disposable income. El Paso is, regrettably, poor. The money that people spend at the arena is money they won’t spend somewhere else. Maybe it’ll be money they would have otherwise spent at Jaguar’s, or on dope. Or maybe it’ll be money they won’t have available for tuition, or medicine. But probably it’ll be money that they would have spent at Tricky Falls, or Boomtown, or on fried oysters at Mac’s Place.

The arena might actually reduce economic growth in El Paso by taking money out of the local economy. Money paid to out-of-town performers leaves the local economy. Also, concentrating more money in fewer hands will likely result in more money being saved and less money being spent, thereby reducing what economists call the velocity of money, that is, how fast the money circulates through the economy.

An arena will compete with the multiple small businesses that depend on El Paso’s meager supply of entertainment dollars, and, as a result, some of those businesses will fail.

The problem with our grand plan is that our “leaders” think that opportunities to spend money will create more money. We should concentrate on building our local economy before we decide how we’re going to spend the money we haven’t made.


  1. Exactly! Basically what I get in trouble for saying all the time. “You’re just being negative,” they say. Or, worse. We have got to remember to learn with, and appreciate what we have, and stop expecting more out of a limited pool of available resources.

  2. Well said! The area where the Powers That Be are determined to build this “arena” SHOULD be an area of small galleries, cafés, etc. along with living spaces. Get there on the trolley if that works for you! It already has some of these enterprises and will have more if left undemolished. That’s economic growth!

  3. And now, according to KVIA yesterday, City Council has said that we are now “under contract” to build an arena where they initially wanted to build it or the city is shirking it’s obligation to the people who did the study in the first place.

    So now it’s a matter that city council has found a way to force that arena construction because they are under contract to do so. In other words, city council is going to find a way, hell or high water to force that arena down our throats whether we want it or not.

    Once again, I want to know who is pulling whose strings in this issue and why is it so damned important that we have an arena in downtown???

    You know, we could make it a historic district with the arena built by marketing it as a sign of historical significance where city council makes history by forcing the city to have an arena that we don’t need. And, put a historical marker on it. It could say, “HERE ON THIS SPOT, PEOPLE WERE FORCED TO LEAVE THEIR HOMES OF MANY YEARS, AND HISTORICAL BUILDINGS WERE KNOCKED DOWN IN ORDER TO BUILD AN ARENA WHICH IS OF NO USE TO ANYBODY BUT PEOPLE IN CITY COUNCIL WHO STOOD TO MAKE TONS OF MONEY ON IT! AND HERE IT NOW STANDS ABANDONED”

    1. I think we should remember who the individuals were who got us into this position. Maybe they had good intentions. Maybe they were motivated only by self-interest. But I don’t see any of them owning the problems they caused and stepping up to try to fix it. They’ve all moved on and left the wreckage behind them.

  4. My first problem with the whole deal is that the arena is really not needed, it will be vacant the majority of the time. It will have to compete with other venues we already have, like the Sun Bowl, Don Haskins Center, Coliseum its adjacent structures. The city has not fully utilized the Abraham Chavez Theater, or Cohen Stadium why do they think it will with the arena. My second problem is a while back there was a announcement that the Vegas and Hunts already willing to bring a major league soccer team to El Paso all they need is a arena. Why should they spend their money to make a arena when the taxpayers will build it for them? Sounds like another sweet deal for them like University Park and a other raw deal for the taxpayers. Third problem, There is plenty of land available that the city owns it can use for the arena, ie: Cohen Stadium, and the old North Park Center.

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