What Joyce Said

Here’s the email that former City Manager Joyce Wilson sent to Mayor Oscar Leeser last week:

Even though I’ve been retired from city government for 10 years and spend some of my winter in FL, I’m still an El Pasoan and pay my taxes here.   This latest idea for a performance center is a joke and represents the small pea-brain vision of recent El Paso leadership.  This is total waste of money.   It will net nothing in terms of a new venue.   The site stinks.  It’s isolated and an environmental hazard.  Do you have any idea what it will cost to clean it up enough to build?   Plus the noise and vibration from the railroad will undermine any performance. 

If you want to be a do nothing city council, then do nothing – but don’t do harm.  Stop listening to folks like Max Grossman who do nothing but destroy our city and undermine its progress.   His vision is an out of town barbecue joint to compete with local businesses.  Or a pile of rocks with a sign on it. 

But an arena will compete with local businesses, also. El Paso only has so many entertainment dollars, and an arena will ship lots of that money out of town. That’s an inconvenient detail Ms. Wilson chose to ignore. Joyce is a logical contortionist.

Ten years ago the community envisioned a facility with minimum of 14,000 seats.   Anything less is like flushing money down the toilet, which you guys have been good at frankly.    How about collaborating with UTEP for a new and expanded Haskins Center with better accommodations, more seating and modern acoustics for performances.  The multi-purpose center was intended to accommodate college and amateur sports as well as music.  That’s why it’s called multi purpose!  Duh!!!!  Or look at convention site and block to south which could potentially address a multitude of issues.   Brian Kennedy has a lot of experience in this field.  There is no way he can justify this expense and be credible. 

All the new hotels in downtown weren’t looking for a rinkydink outdoor facility on the railroad.    They were looking at a signature project to bring in major attractions and heads in beds.  

This is why it’s important to get new leadership at our next election, and leadership that will commit to a grander vision for El Paso.  Small minds lead to small visions and mediocrity.   Which is exactly what this bright idea is.  

If you don’t have guts to do something grand, then just do nothing.   This is pretty sad.  

And so you know I’m not just being critical but also willing to help with better solutions, I’ll volunteer to help you do better due diligence.   All I ask is you go back to original report that looked at the Tulsa center as the best model for EP back in 2012 and update that.  

Joyce Wilson

ElPasoMatters.com felt they had to clean up Joyce’s language:

“This latest idea for a performance center is a joke and represents the small pea-brain vision of recent El Paso leadership.  This is total waste of money,” became

“This latest idea for a performance center is a total waste of money.”

And this:

“The multi-purpose center was intended to accommodate college and amateur sports as well as music and other events. That’s why it’s called multi purpose!”

In the original email, this was appended: “Doh!!!!”

Curious, innit, that ElPasoMatters.com felt the need to censor Ms. Wilson?

The proposed MPC isn’t that different than what Gensler proposed for Duranguito. Why didn’t Ms. Wilson raise her arrogant voice about Gensler’s proposal? I mean, she’s not just bitching about the location. She also is whining about the proposed design, which isn’t that different from Gensler’s.

Former Mayor John Cook chimed in, too, with an email signed by him and former City Council Representative Steve Ortega. Now we’re hearing from the Ghosts of Budgets Past.

They don’t have any more credibility than the current crop of arena advocates.


  1. She actually advocated collaborating with UTEP for an expanded Haskins Center???? Beyond imaging…some of the proponents of the MPC actually said it was needed because UTEP was getting all the money for big performances!

    1. I have the perfect solution, which would actually bring to life Wilson’s idea about collaborating with UTEP to expand the the Don Haskins Center. Have Paul Foster help fund it. Perhaps the Hunt family can also chip in, given how generous El Paso taxpayers have been to their bottom line. UTEP could even rename it the, “Haskins-Foster Hunt Center.” And wouldn’t be unprecedented. After all, Mr. and Mrs Foster made a generous donation if $100 Million to his Alma mater, Baylor University (the largest ever donation to the University) to build a beautiful, state of the art arena to host Baylor’s championship men and women’s Basketball teams. The old arena, the Ferrell Center, which sits along the Brazos River, was built in 1988. It was still very nice and large. The new Foster Pavillion, though smaller, does take your breath away and makes Baylor home games that much more exciting. At a total cost of just over $200 Million in partnership with the City of Waco, it could serve as a blueprint for El Paso. And personally, As one of those El Paso taxpayer parents who pays the hefty college tuition and fees of this most prestigious private university, I have the opportunity to experience both and I suppose, thank the Fosters, on behalf of my child, for their most generous contribution (among others generous donations he has made to Baylor).

      So it’s really quite simple and devoid of controversy or any further division. Ms. Wilson could take her idea and use her vast connections and appeal to her wealthy supporters to add to the City’s fund and make her dream a reality.

  2. And please allow me to add that this isn’t a knock or any sort of ad hominem against Foster or Hunt. They are as free to spend and donate their money where they choose to do so as I am (privileged) to spend mine on the university of my son’s choice when there are other outstanding options closer to home. As a proud NMSU alum, I can confidently say that my NMSU education greatly contributed to the professional success of a daughter of a bracero and her ability to represent generational change. As I often say, for my children, the question became not “will I be ABLE to go to university,” but , “WHERE will I attend university.” Generous philanthropists like the Fosters and the Hunts have contributed to both UTEP and NMSU educational programs. Why not a further gift to the taxpayers and citizens if El Paso who have contributed to their success.

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