First downtown ballpark season showing losses for city

    For many attendees of the downtown ballpark, all the demolition and hassle leading up to this season has been worth it.

     "I think it gives El Paso something to do," said Robert Enriquez, buying a ticket at the ballpark office Friday. "I know there's always a full crowd here. So that shows that the people do love it.

     But what about the cost? According to early numbers from the city, the ballpark is actually going to cost taxpayers about half a million dollars.

     Here's the breakdown: According to the city, the ballpark has brought in about $4.3 million in sales tax and revenue sharing for things like ticket sales, including $3.8 million from the hotel occupancy tax increase voters approved in the last election to fund the ballpark.     

     But on the other side, the ballpark has cost over $4.8 million, including $4.1 million in debt service for the ballpark so far, and nearly $700,000 for police officers on traffic control during home games.
     So even with the city in the red for this first year of the ballpark, some people are saying it's definitely worth it, particularly for areas nearby the ballpark, like Union Plaza.

     Stephen Ingle, co-founder of Creative Kids out of the Olo Gallery in Union Plaza, says that it takes time to build up profit, but he expects it to turn around for the city soon

    "I really do, because you're going to see people that are coming from other towns," Ingle said. "You're going to be seeing other events coming through there. So I think the energy will pick up, and I see the balance going way way into the black in the years to come."

     David Hamilton, the bass player for Fungi Mungle, a band playing at Alfresco Fridays in the Convention Center Plaza next to the ballpark, said he was expecting the largest crowd in the eight years he's played the event, all thanks to the ballpark.

     "Absolutely," Hamilton said. "Especially with the improvement they've been doing downtown, I've been noticing bigger and bigger crowds every year."

     With 64 out of 68 home games played already this season, there could be some change in the final numbers. The city is still gathering information on business permits and taxes gathered from areas near the ballpark as well.

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