El Paso baseball ownership group to donate profits from baseball team to El Paso charities

EL PASO, Texas - The prospective owners trying to acquire the Triple-A Tucson Padres will donate all of their team's profits to charity.

Mithoff Burton, a marketing company affiliated with MountainStar Sports ownership group, confirmed Wednesday morning that owners' profits from the baseball team will go to El Paso charitable causes.

"The money would be given for charitable purposes, and would continue for the foreseeable future," MountainStar Sports Group said in a statement late Wednesday.

The group making efforts to buy the Triple-A team consists of Foster and Alejandra De La Vega Foster who are married and father and son Woody and Joshua Hunt.

The ownership group is paying a still undisclosed amount of money to buy the team and bring it to El Paso.

The city is paying for the construction of the baseball stadium which could cost up to $50 million. Supporters are hoping voters will approve a 2 percent increase on the hotel tax visitors pay when they stay in El Paso to pay for the majority of the stadium.

The rest would come from ticket surcharges, parking revenues and some general fund revenues, according to the City.

The mayor and other city representatives said the decision to donate to charity makes it clear the stadium is not about profits, but rather economic development.

"It's really good that they've decided to do that to calm the public fears that this is a money grab. I think it's a good way for them to show that's it's not about the money," said Mayor John Cook.

City Rep. Eddie Holguin, who voted against the demolition of City Hall to build the new stadium, did not agree.

"We shouldn't cloud the issue. The issue is that the citizens of El Paso did not have an opportunity to vote on this issue. And I think that by doing this, it just clouds the issue," Holguin said Wednesday.

Stadium supporters said El Paso might have lost out on getting the team if they waited to take the issue to the voters in November. The ownership was out of town and not available for comment on Wednesday, said an official with the PR company hired by the group.

"What I really hope that it will do is calm the concerns that are out there. And let them know this is truly a negotiation between a city and a public sector group and our efforts are to improve the quality of life," said City Rep. Cortney Niland.

MountainStar Sports Group is in the process of acquiring the Tucson Padres, the Triple-A team for Major League Baseball's San Diego Padres.

MountainStar Sports Group also would operate the new Downtown ballpark when it is built.

Opponents of the Downtown ballpark have said a stadium could not fit on the current City Hall site.

City Engineer Alan Shubert was on local radio show SportsTalk Tuesday and disputed that the stadium would not fit and said "We just had the site surveyed and the site is almost exactly 5 acres."

The Pacific Coast League's executive committee on July 30 announced it had unanimously approved the preliminary application review (PAR) application by MountainStar Sports Group, bringing a Triple-A team one step closer to being moved to El Paso.

The PCL's president sent a letter to El Paso City Manager Joyce Wilson, which stated that a Control Interest Transfer application has been sent to Minor League Baseball and that review has started.

"Because the Ownership Group has already been approved under the PAR process, we expect the CIT review to be straightforward and we do not anticipate any issues," PCL President Branch B. Rickey said in the July 30 letter.

Joshua Hunt, a partner in MountainStar Sports Group, has previously said the PAR approval letter from Rickey was a very positive sign from the Pacific Coast League and Minor League Baseball.

"This is all part of the baseball process, and it's a big step forward," Joshua Hunt said last month. "There are other necessary steps of approval, but we're getting very close."

Joshua Hunt added that this is big, positive news for the City.

"This is as close as this City's ever been in its history to having a Triple-A, professionally-affiliated team," Joshua Hunt said. "That's exciting, and it's a tribute to El Paso that our community was carefully vetted by Minor League Baseball and the PCL. Our City can be proud of that; there are only thirty Triple-A Baseball teams in the country."

El Paso City Council on June 26 approved building a baseball stadium at the site of the current City Hall in Downtown. The measure passed by a vote of 6-2.

To make way for ballpark opening by spring of 2014, City Hall would have to be demolished by early 2013 with a 14-month construction schedule.

The City is negotiating the purchase of the El Paso Times building and a second building for new the new City Hall.

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