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Groundbreaking ceremony held for El Paso ballpark

Winds whipped and dust was kicked up from an active construction site, but nothing was going to stop Thursday’s groundbreaking ceremony for El Paso’s new downtown ballpark.

Work continued mere feet from ticket holders, dignitaries and city officials, but all eyes were on the 18 shovels modeled as baseball bats. The shovels, after all, were there to overturn the dirt, a signal of the ongoing effort to finish a ballpark in time for Opening Day April 2014.

With more than 200 people sitting in the future site of right-centerfield, a promotional video hyping the new team played.

“After watching that video how many of you are ready to come to downtown El Paso for Opening Day in 2014?” asked ESPN 600 host Steve Kaplowitz, to a cheering crowd.

Josh Hunt, the first part-owner to speak, told the crowd, “This is El Paso’s ballpark.”

Pat O’Conner, president and CEO of Minor League Baseball, Branch RIckey, Pacific Coast League president and Fred Uhlman Jr, asssistant GM of the San Diego Padres minor league team spoke, with each taking time to thank El Paso for becoming a part of Triple-A baseball.

Rickey, who has been to El Paso several times recently, began by telling fans, “I’m happy to be here to celebrate yet another landmark occasion.”

The day’s event took part days after more money was committed to the downtown ballpark, amove that has some asking questions, but Rickey didn’t shy away from the fray.

“Many will be concerned about the cost of the stadium,” said Rickey. “My guess is after the first pitch is thrown, the widespread comment with be: ‘Why didn’t we do this sooner?'”

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