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City wants $10 million more for ballpark construction

El Paso City Council will be asked Tuesday to approve significant expansion of the budget for the downtown baseball stadium currently under construction.

The original budget called for $40 million in construction expenses and another $10 million in design-related expenses. An agenda item for Tuesday’s Council meeting calls for revising the construction number more than $10 million to $50,216,403. City representative Emma Acosta says the actual cost would be even more than that because of bond issuance and art set-aside expenses.

Ballpark engineer Alan Shubert said, “We’ve only bid about fifteen percent of the projects so far. We’re concerned about whether or not we have the volume in the contract. We’re fairly sure that we don’t have the funds to complete the project as it’s on the boards right now.”

Shubert said the project could be completed without additional funds, but that it wouldn’t be what El Pasoans thought they were getting. “We’d have to go back and redesign,” he said. “I can tell you that would have an impact on the schedule. There’s no way we’d make opening day for sure . We could scale it back and we absolutely can build a ballpark for $50 million but it’s not going to be the ballpark the community wants, in my opinion.”

Much of the additional funding would be spent on features not purely integral to the ballpark. A movable walkway above the adjacent train tracks just south of the stadium and nearby street modifications would consume part of the funds. There would also be $5 million set aside for unplanned contingencies. Deputy city manager Bill Studer said that’s a common practice.

Another item on Council’s Tuesday agenda would seek to boost the design-related fees the City will pay to the Populous Group by $725,310 to a new total of $3,820,680.

El Paso City Council will take up the agenda items at its weekly meeting on Tuesday. MountainStar Sports Group, which is bringing the Triple-A team to El Paso from Tucson, will have a groundbreaking ceremony for the new ballpark on May 30.

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