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New ads supporting downtown arena spark debate once again

In early August, the city voted to appeal a ruling made by an Austin judge that would allow it to build a multipurpose entertainment facility but not allow it to design a facility that would accommodate sports.

City officials told ABC-7 an appeal could take several months.

Meanwhile, the MountainStar Sports Group, owners of the El Paso Chihuahuas have begun an ad campaign that supports the downtown arena.

The ads have reignited the debate over the arena and it’s proposed site in the Duranguito neighborhood located in El Paso’s downtown.

Supporters and opponents spoke out during Tuesday’s city council meeting.

“There’s something very wrong with this picture,” said Jack Chapman, board chairman for the Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce. Chapman added with 70 percent of the voters approving the 2012 bond there should be no question on the construction.

Chapman said the Chamber of Commerce has unwavering support for the multipurpose center to include sports.

Opponents were quick to argue than an arena would not be financially viable.

“If the arena is built it would be a financial miscalculation of epic proportions that will haunt El Paso taxpayers and politicians for decades,” said El Pasoan Jed Burges.

The ads by the MountainStar Sports Group which were launched on print media and online say “El Paso deserves a downtown multipurpose entertainment facility that can host all kinds of events. Including sports.”

MountainStar officials say the adds say geared to, “Generate support for the city’s efforts to get the arena built and to encourage 2012 bond voters to make sure their original vote in favor of a multipurpose arena is honored.”

Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce President Richard Dayoub also addressed City Council at Tuesday’s meeting, speaking to a majority of new council members who weren’t around when the 2012 bond was passed by voters.

“Unfortunately, it’s on your plate. We ask you to step up on this … do the right thing and let’s get moving and give the taxpayers what we promised them and what we deserve,” Dayoub said.

In a interview after the council meeting, City Representative Alexsandra Anello said she was upset about the rhetoric that is coming out of outside groups that do not work for the city.

“I think it’s really important we follow what the judge in Austin did say. We cannot build a sports arena until the appeal is done,” Anello said.

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