El Paso, Texas -- The Texas Supreme Court once again rejected a request to hear a case that has deep implications for the most expensive 'quality of life project' the City of El Paso has ever undertaken.
The state Supreme Court on Friday declined to rehear a case that challenged the city's authority to build the project in the Duranguito neighborhood with bonds approved by voters in a 2012 election. Critics said the city deceived voters by failing to describe the project as a sports arena, while the city says the community knew a 'Multipurpose Performing Arts and Entertainment Center' on the ballot would include sports.
Justices did not explain why they will not hear the case.
“I am pleased with the Texas Supreme Court’s decision. We have one more legal proceeding to clear the path to building the Multipurpose Center, but this is a long awaited step in the process to fulfilling the will of the voters,” reacted Mayor Dee Margo.
With this step, the appeals court decision remains the last word, allowing the city to build the facility downtown and with funds from the 2012 'quality of life' bond election. The city will be allowed to use funding from other sources to complete or enhance the facility for sports use, something the trial judge had forbidden but an appeals court overturned. Margo has said that is a huge deal as the city could tap into other revenue streams like naming rights and such.
“Time and time again the courts have validated that El Paso voters authorized the City to build a facility with a broad entertainment purpose to include sporting events and that we can utilize outside funding to develop the project,” City Attorney Karla Nieman said in a statement after Friday's decision occurred.
The 'quality of life' bond plan allocated $180 million for the facility. It is the plan's signature project. Margo has said the project could cost upwards of $250 million given the time that has elapsed from the election.
Max Grossman, an architectural historian and professor at the University of Texas at El Paso has led the legal battle against the city for years. He was not immediately available for comment.
Grossman insists the neighborhood the city selected for the arena -- the area known as "Duranguito"-- has historic significance and is worth preserving.
His financial backer in the legal effort, famed Texas philanthropist JP Bryan, was also not available for comment.
City officials said Friday the next step as they move forward on the project is the completion of an archaeological study of the construction site. A permit granted by the Texas Historical Commission for that study remains on hold under a separate challenge from Grossman.