El Paso approves hotel-motel tax hike for Triple-A stadium

My apologies: In yesterday’s discussion of stadium-related election results, I neglected to include El Paso, where voters approved an increase in the hotel/motel tax rate to pay about $35 million towards a new $50 million stadium to bring the current Tucson Padres to town. I haven’t been able to find figures for how much was spend on the pro and anti campaigns to test the 100-to-1 rule, though there is this lovely story about the city manager getting in hot water for calling stadium opponents “crazies” in an email.

For a minor-league stadium deal, the El Paso one is crazily complex: The city will have to tear down its City Hall to make way for the stadium, which means city government will need to pay about $30 million to acquire new buildings to do its business in. Also, the city won’t share in any stadium revenue, but will get rent payments and a 10-cent-per-ticket admissions tax. How much El Paso taxpayers will get stuck with at the end of the day, in other words, will depend less on the hotel/motel tax approved yesterday and more on the picayune details of the lease — any chance we can get Judith Grant Long to add an appendix?


6 comments on “El Paso approves hotel-motel tax hike for Triple-A stadium

  1. This deal was already a done deal even if voters hadnt voted for the tax. The choice was hotel tax or basically property tax increase. Also El Paso is the opposite of a baseball town, this was done to make El Paso look less Mexican. Just shows how even minor league baseball gets the best location in town even if we have to tear down city hall. No other sport gets that kind of welfare not even the NFL.

  2. Well said, Steven. I guess the democratically minded in EP should be thankful that the team did not require that city hall be demolished AND the right to govern be turned over to the franchise.

    There are also two sides to every franchise move, of course. While El Paso (like Allentown, Pa) may be gloating over it’s decision to build a new ballpark for the team it intends to lure, Tucson (and Ottawa, Ontario) are rethinking their decisions to spend heavily to build or renovate parks for the teams in the past.

    I don’t know if the Padres played at TEP, but MLB had long used that facility before deciding that the trip from Phx to Tucson was just “too much” for spring training players (unlike playing winterball in the warzone that is Mexico, I guess) and moving everyone out. As I recall, Tucson offered to renovate but the only option MLB would accept would have been moving the stadium closer to Phoenix…

    I guess in Ottawa’s case, they can at least be thankful that the AAA team (the Lynx) didn’t require them to blow up parliament to pave the way for the stadium…

  3. Well to be fair the people of Tucson had those thoughts of recrimination years ago when Spring training and the Tucson Sidewinders moved out. The Padres by comparison made it clear before they moved into Kino Stadium that they were only there temporarily. If the folks in Tucson thought differently that was their problem. Though based on the T-Pods low attendance I think the message was received.

  4. Usually when they do the whole “hotel tax” scheme it’s under the argument that sports teams attract tourists. Anyone here travel far and wide for the sole reason to watch a minor baseball team? I watch the Brooklyn Cyclones on Coney Island in ’09 but that was because my girlfriend and I ended up at Coney Island that day – there was no pre-plan to travel across North America to see the Cyclones…

    Here in Edmonton we built a ballpark for the AAA Trappers. The park opened in 1995 and was hailed as a successful ballpark.

    Ten years later the team left under an ownership group headed by Nolan Ryan.

    Now we have, what I consider to be, a beautiful downtown(ish) ballpark that draws okay when it has something respectable to market and a smattering of people when there’s nothing – like Womens World Cup of Baseball game that gets rescheduled an hour earlier at the last minute because why not?

    My question/concern is what the shelf life is for minor league ballparks nowadays? I understand the Trappers left Edmonton under other reasons (falling Canadian dollar, being the lone Pacific Coast League stop in Canada) but I’m curious if this ballpark in El Paso will be redundant in six years instead of ten?

  5. I’m one of those who travel to a town to watch baseball. But there certainly aren’t enough like minded people to fill up hotel rooms on a regular basis. And I’m usually staying at motel 6 anyway, not much in taxes there.

  6. Andrew, depends on the location. The T-Pods current park while not built for them and always a temporary location for the team was built in part for the Tucson Sidewinders and it lasted exactly 10 years in that role. But then Tucson was also like Edmonton, a less than ideal location. Other teams I can think of off hand have been in their stadiums 10, 20, even 60 years at this point in Sacramento, Lake Elsinore, and San Jose respectively. It all depends on the financial return where the team is located. Canada is less than ideal which is why only one MLB affiliated team still calls Canada home in Vancouver.

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