City Council Vote Tuesday Could Bring Triple-A Baseball To El Paso

EL PASO, Texas - El Paso City Council is set to vote on Tuesday on a proposal to build a ballpark that would bring a Triple-A baseball franchise to Downtown El Paso.

The item was posted on the Council agenda on Thursday afternoon.

El Paso City Representative Steve Ortega, who indicated a tentative agreement for a team is already in place, said the fate of Triple-A baseball in El Paso now rests on a City Council vote on Tuesday to approve the building of an estimated $50 million ballpark on the current City Hall site. Another hurdle that must be cleared is a vote by Triple-A ownership, clearing the way for a team in El Paso.

El Paso millionaires Paul Foster and Woody Hunt have been working for two years to acquire a Triple-A team for El Paso. According to Tuesday's City Council agenda item, City Manager Joyce Wilson would work with MountainStar Sports Group, LLC in the construction of a baseball stadium.

MountainStar Sports Group was founded May 8, 2012 and has active officers that include Foster, Hunt, Scott D. Weaver, and Josh Hunt, according to business registration information with the state.

Ortega did not know if that team would come from the Pacific Coast League or the International League. But recently Foster and Hunt had been working on trying to acquire the Triple-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres, which is currently located in Tucson.

The City Hall site is most viable, according to City officials, because it is already owned by the City and could be cleared quickly. City Hall would have to be razed and relocated in order to make that happen.

The Triple-A franchise could begin playing games in Downtown El Paso as soon as Spring of 2014, according to City officials. The ballpark would likely seat 10,000 to 12,000, with a potential funding option coming from raising the Hotel Occupancy Tax two and a half percent. That would raise $35 million of the $50 million needed over a 15 year period, according to Ortega.

Mountain Star Sports Group has been working for over two years to bring a professionally-affiliated sports team to El Paso, according to a news release from the group. They have engaged two prominent sports business consulting firms to assist with the effort: California-based Barrett Sports Group, LLC, a sports management consulting firm, and Perfect Game Ventures, LLC, a sports advisory and management firm based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

"El Paso is ready for professionally-affiliated sports," Josh Hunt said in a news release. "A Triple-A baseball team and a new ballpark would be a tremendous quality-of-life opportunity for the City, as well as a catalyst for downtown revitalization and a boost to economic development. We believe a Triple-A team would be well-received by residents, and we intend to make it a true community asset and El Paso's team."

El Paso has been without an affiliated baseball team since 2004 when the El Paso Diablos franchise, formerly a Double-A minor league team, was moved to the midwest. An ownership group then brought the Diablos back as an independent baseball team about a year later.

El Paso Diablos officials had no comment regarding the possibility of a Triple-A baseball team being brought to El Paso.

The full agenda items related to the Triple-A team and a Downtown baseball stadium are below:

"Discussion and action on a Resolution that the City Manager be authorized to sign the Term Sheet as agreed upon by the City of El Paso and Mountain Star Sports Group, LLC, in order to signal the creation of the public/private partnership and the intent of the City Council to construct a public sports facility ("Ballpark") in the event the investors are able to purchase a Triple-A Minor League Baseball Franchise and relocate it to El Paso; that the City Council intends to locate the Ballpark on the site currently occupied by City Hall, Insights Museum, the Community Garden and the supporting parking area fronting on Franklin Street and authorizes the City Manager to take measures to complete the planning for the redevelopment of such site and to take steps to make the site available for the construction, including termination of leasehold interests, and to move forward to formulate long term and short term execution plans for the relocation of City operations from the City Hall site to other locations in the downtown area for the construction of the Ballpark; that the City Manager be authorized to proceed with proposed financing plan to include the possible use of (i) a venue hotel occupancy tax if approved by the voters at a duly-called election; (ii) lease revenue bonds issued by a local government corporation formed by the City; and/or (iii) other debt obligations issued by or on behalf of the City for the construction and development of the Ballpark; and that the City Manager or her designee be authorized to negotiate a contract containing the terms and conditions set forth in the Term Sheet for the construction and future operations and maintenance of the Ballpark and to present it to City Council for consideration upon completion of the negotiations."

Other items on Tuesday's agenda also are related to the construction of a baseball park downtown, including:

Discussion and action on a presentation of the Downtown Sports Complex Study as developed by Urban Design and discussion and action on a presentation of the financial impacts of a downtown stadium.

Related Link:How Much Does It Cost To Attend A Triple-A Baseball Game?Sports Group Formed To Bring Triple-A Team To El Paso

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