El Paso

Downtown arena opponents threatening to file lawsuit

Downtown Arena opponents threatening...

EL PASO, Texas - The battle over building the new arena in the Duranguito area in Downtown El Paso took another interesting turn Monday.

Opponents are now threatening to file a lawsuit saying what the City plans to build is not what voters approved as part of the 2012 Quality of Life Bond.

The letter from El Paso Attorney Frank Ainsa was emailed to the City on Monday. It threatens members of City Council, including Mayor Oscar Leeser, with a lawsuit if the City does not rescind its decision to use funds generated by the quality of life bonds to build the $180 million arena in the Union Plaza neighborhood.

At the gist of it seems to be this part of the letter, stating: "Specifically, the project approved by the voters for Duranguito was a 'multipurpose performing arts and entertainment facility.' However, the project on which bond funds are being expended is not a 'multipurpose performing arts and entertainment facility,' but is, in fact, a sports arena."

City Council has directed staff to proceed with the Duranguito neighborhood for the arena, or multipurpose performing arts and entertainment facility.

ABC-7 reached out to the City Attorney Sylvia Borunda Firth and received a short response stating: "I am in receipt of the letter and in the process of reviewing the allegations."

Ainsa was out of town and not available for comment Monday. But ABC-7 was able to speak with Dr. Max Grossman of the El Paso History Alliance, who has been leading the fight against building the arena in Duranguito.

"The fact is the city issued an (request for qualifications) to hire an architectural firm to design this thing and that (request for qualifications) makes very clear that this is a kind of a sports stadium for basketball and other sports," Grossman said. "It has nothing to do with what we voted for."

Grossman said they expect to hear a response from the City in a matter of days. He said he expects it to happen "very quickly" and for the project to come to a halt.

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