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City’s chief financial officer breaks down payment options for ballpark

Over the weekend, it seemed Mayor John Cook threw a curve ball at plans for a new downtown stadium.

ABC-7’s news partners at El Paso Inc. reported Cook said he’d veto certificates of obligation to pay for it.

Cook stressed that he has always supported the ballpark, but wasn’t aware certificates of obligation couldn’t be used to pay for it in the first place, so his opposition was a moot point.

“My position has been consistent. The questions have been inconsistent. I mean, if someone asks me a question about certificates of obligation, I’ll give them specific answer on my position of COs,” said Cook.

Monday the city manager and councilors sent letters to Barrett Sports Group reaffirming their commitment to AAA baseball.

“We’ve had a lot of negative chaos going on in the middle of a very complicated transaction, the big concern is if it’s jeopardized and we lose it, the opportunities for El Paso to have professional sports are probably going to be slim to none for at least a decade or two,” said City Manager Joyce Wilson.

With COs off the table, the city’s Chief Financial Officer, Carmen Arrieta-Candelaria said for the first year the most cost effective method to pay for the ballpark would come primarily from the Hotel Occupancy Tax.

Arrieta-Candelaria said, ideally, 70 percent of the funds would come from an increase in the HOT tax.

She said the other 30 percent would combine:

$40,000 from a ten cent per-ticket surcharge, estimating around 5,400 people would attend every game.

$200,000 from stadium rent, after the second year, three-quarters of that will go into a capital improvement fund, leaving $50,000 for the stadium.

$700,000 – $800,000 from the city’s general fund, according to Arrieta-Candelaria that’s money from sales taxes and parking downtown, among other things, but not including property tax.

If the HOT tax doesn’t pass, Arrieta-Candelaria said 98 percent of the funding, about $3.5 million would come from the general fund.

According to Arrieta-Candelaria the estimates are likely to decrease over time, but do not include the cost of demolishing and relocating City Hall.

Wednesday evening, city officials released a fact sheet detailing its reasons for aggressively working to secure a AAA franchise, along with the cost of the project. You can read it in its entirety by clicking here.

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