El Paso

City holds open house to serve as refresher course on downtown arena

City holds open house to refresh...

Thursday the city held a community meeting.

The topic: El Paso's downtown arena.

The meeting was to inform the public on the arena but it was also met with opposition.

The last time the arena was discussed was in January when city officials called off new studies. Old studies pointed to putting the arena in the Durangito neighborhood.

City officials said the meeting was a refresher course for the public.

"The main idea behind this is to bring the value of the multi-purpose center in a dense urban area. What is the advantage of having it," said Khalil Zaied, deputy city manager for public works.

Zaied tells ABC-7 the information was laid out in stages beginning with an overview, why downtown, information on the studies, the location of the Durangito neighborhood, relocation information, timelines and some investment information.

"We wanted to show the differences between perception and facts," Zaied said.

The open house didn't seem well attended but Zaied said it's depended on what side of town the meetings have been in.

"I was told we had 30 to 35 people showing up at other meetings," Zaied said.

"So far I've been to each meeting except one in the northeast and attendance has been very very sporadic, really low for the city," said Gilbert Guillen, head of the Union Plaza Association.

The group against having the arena built in the Durangito neighborhood set up a booth near the entrance of the city's open house.

"All of them tell me they don't want to go. That they are disappointed with the city's message, they are disappointed with the city's, lies with the back and forth and the lack of leadership," Guillen said.

The group is gathering valid signatures to take to the council so it can reconsider the Durangito neighborhood.

Zaied said he wants people to walk away with a message.

"This wasn't an idea that someone came up with to bring the project in this area. It came out of multiple studies, multiple analysis, looking at the best optimum place for this facility," Zaied said.

Guillen disagrees.

"We don't need another 12,000-seat arena. We already have the Don Haskins Center. We already have the Pan American Center so it should be way grander if we should do it we should do it right," Guillen said.

The next meeting will be at the Multipurpose Recreation Center at 9031 Viscount Blvd. Apr. 10 at 6 p.m.

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