City approves CUSA contract; commits $110k

Council Secures C-USA Tourney, But Some Are Not Happy

EL PASO, Texas - The El Paso City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to commit $110,000 to the Conference USA women's and men's basketball tournament, scheduled to be hosted in El Paso on March 11 - March 15.

To secure the tournament, the City committed to paying Conference USA a $100,000 site fee, plus another $10,000 for miscellanous expenses. If the conference makes money, then the City will get reimbursed in a few months.

The CUSA tournament is expected to have a $3.5 million economic impact on El Paso, as more than 3,000 people travel to the Sun City for the tournament, said Bryan Crowe, the General Manager of Destination El Paso.

If there's a loss in revenue from the conference, the city has committed to covering half that loss, or no more than $225,000. Sports Commission C.E.O. Brian Kennedy said he was so confident there would be no losses, he offered to have the Sports Commission commit to pay for the losses, instead of the city.

Council seemed comforted by Kennedy's promise but did not take him up on the offer because they didn't want to delay the deal even more.

Mayor Oscar Leeser was especially concerned about the short timing of the contract.  "You're really not giving us too much of an option to do anything and I'm really concerned and this is not the way I would want to do business moving forward that - we have no option, there is no option. The tournament is coming here," said Leeser to Crowe. The City agreed in 2011 to help bid to bring CUSA to El Paso but the contract details were not presented to Council until Tuesday.

"There was some changes in the conference themselves and that took a little while to put the deal together and finally there were some signatures in December and it was just going through the process," said Kennedy.

 The County will consider it's portion of the contract next week. Even though the County and the City commit to paying losses if there are any, they don't get any actual profits from the tournament. Kennedy said it's balanced because the City and County still get revenues from sales and hotel taxes. Council members said they're confident the tournament will do well but wished they had more time to vet the contract.

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