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Appeals Court: City’s downtown arena can host sporting events

The City of El Paso’s multipurpose arena and entertainment complex will be allowed to accommodate sports, El Paso Mayor Dee Margo announced Wednesday.

The City said Wednesday the ruling was made by the Third Court of Appeals in Austin. “This is a monumental win for the City of El Paso,” Margo said in a news release. The ruling means the City would be able to sell naming rights to the arena in order to raise more money to build the arena.

In 2017, Austin judge Amy Clarke Meachum reaffirmed the City had the authority to build the Multipurpose Performing Arts Center (MPC) in Duranguito, with bond money approved by voters for that purpose during the 2012 Quality of Life Bond election.

That was a win for the City, until Judge Meachum indicated the arena could not be used for sports. The City appealed that decision. As ABC-7 has reported, consultants told El Paso City Council the arena would have to have an anchor tenant, such as a D-League basketball team, to make the project a success.

The City said the ruling by the appeals court not only means the arena can host sports, but the City can use “funding from other sources” to modify, complete or enhance the facility for sports use.

The following paragraph was added as a declaration to the judgment:

“The City may lawfully expend proceeds generated from the sale of the Bonds to acquire land, design, construct, improve, renovate, and equip a multipurpose performing arts and entertainment facility located in downtown El Paso. The term “multipurpose performing arts and entertainment,” as a matter of law, includes sports and sporting events, but the Facility may not be designed, constructed, improved, renovated, or equipped exclusively for sports and sporting events.”

In late October, Margo declared a major victory in the legal battle with opponents of the arena project who are fighting to protect the Duranguito neighborhood from demolition. At the time, Margo said the City of El Paso no longer has to provide a 14-day notice to Historian Max Grossman and his attorneys before demolishing buildings in the Duranguito neighborhood and it no longer has to notify Grossman when it issues a demolition permit.

Grossman is spearheading the effort to protect Duranguito. “Ladies and gentleman, this is a dog fight. It’s back and forth. There are wins and losses. We’ve won certain points. The city has won certain points. Bottom line, is the neighborhood is still here,” said Grossman, “And if we have anything to say about it, it’s going to be here for our children and grandchildren.”

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