MountainStar guarantees payment for additional ballpark costs

Joyce Wilson must now consult with Leeser for ballpark decisions

EL PASO, Texas - MountainStar Sports Group says it will pay up front for any new costs to the ballpark if any were to surface.

A couple of weeks ago City Rep. Eddie Holguin Jr. asked MountainStar for a personal written guarantee that they'd pay for the $12 million the ownership group committed to paying, even if MountainStar went bankrupt.

MountainStar at the City Council meeting on Tuesday reaffirmed their answer to that is no.

But they did guarantee something else.

MountainStar's lawyer told council the ownership group guarantees the City will not be asked for any more money.

He said if any additional costs surface MountainStar will pay for that upfront.

The ballpark's cost went from $52.8 million to more than $60 million because it'll be bigger than originally thought, and to add canopies and decks, among other amenities.

MountainStar agreed to pay $12 million of the City's debt it inquired to pay for the ballpark by doubling its rent and extending its lease to 30 years. The rest of the stadium funding will come from hotel occupancy taxes visitors pay when they stay in El Paso hotels and from revenue from the ballpark, like ticket surcharges, according to the city.

"So what we have now are contracts that are irrversible and we're moving forward and we're getting a guarantee that we will not go into anymore negotiations. We're going build a state of the art ballpark and if they (MountainStar) want something else, it's on their dime," said Mayor Oscar Leeser.

Holguin disagreed. "That's not a correct statement because it is reversible. Maybe council might not be willing to challenge it but most certainly it is challengeable," he told Leeser.

The mayor said the city could not reverse the contract, only breach it and face legal consequences.

Council also voted to make the mayor take a more central role in looking over the ballpark construction contract and the purchasing of office space related to the ballpark move. They unanimously voted to revise the authority of City Manager Joyce Wilson so that she must directly consult with Leeser before signing any future contracts relating to the ballpark.

"I have all the confidence in Ms. Wilson. I believe she has the best interest for the city. This is not taking away her power. This is making sure before we do anything that I'm involved," said Leeser.

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