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MountainStar has approached County and City about soccer stadium partnership

ABC-7 has learned the group that owns the El Paso Chihuahuas has approached the County and the City about the possibility of another public-private partnership.

MountainStar Sports Group wants to build a soccer stadium in or as close to Downtown as possible for a team that would play in the United Soccer League.

Using an open records request, the ABC-7 I-Team obtained recordings of a commissioners court discussion revealing who’s leaning towards saying yes and saying no.

ABC-7 spoke with the county judge and commissioners.

“Personally, I think this would be a huge hit in the community,” County Judge Veronica Escobar said during that April strategic planning session. “i think we’re a soccer town, adjacent to Mexico. I think it would be a huge quality of life boon for us. I want to look back 10, 20 years from now and not just say, ‘We reformed County government and built a highly functioning organization.’ I want us to build stuff.”

Escobar said she did not have time for an interview Thursday, but texted: “I’m very excited about the project of el paso having a professional soccer team and hope that the County can play a role in making it a reality.”

MountainStar Sports Group also declined an interview, and sent this statement: “Our discussions with USL (United Soccer League), as well as those with the City and County, have all been positive. Our objective is to build a first-class soccer stadium in or as close to Downtown as possible as part of a public/private partnership.”

Some commissioners are supportive of a possible partnership, while others want to know more.

“We’ve only really touched on it superficially, we haven’t established a site, we haven’t established a cost,” Commissioner Carlos Leon said. “If the options are good for the County, if the options are good for the taxpayer, we’re in.”

Added Commissioner Vince Perez: “As far as the County’s role in this we just have to see how this balances with the other priorities that we have in the community.”

Commissioner andrew haggerty told ABC-7: “I will support a soccer stadium if it is voted on by the taxpayers. I will not support a stadium built without taxpayer approval.”

At the conclusion of that April planning meeting, Escobar said: “Well, there’s three that say don’t close the door. Commissioner Haggerty is not interested. Commissioner Perez?”

Perez replied: “Just financially I don’t see it.”

Members of the court don’t seem to have changed their position since the April session. Commissioners have met with MountainStar since then — except for Perez, who sent a representative — and Commissioner Stout told ABC-7 the discussions are still preliminary.

MountainStar Sports added that the USL has been expanding across the country and considers El Paso a viable market for a future franchise. MountainStar is looking is currently looking at as many as 10 different properties for its possible stadium site.

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