Who'll Pay for Downtown Baseball Stadium?

POSTED: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 - 6:26pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 - 6:28pm

Ballot Proposition 3 Asks Voter Decision on Hotel tax

The commercial's running on TV stations including Newschannel 9.

(commercial):  "A vote for means the majority of the ballpark will be paid for by visitors. If proposition three is not approved, the city will have to find alternative financing, money that would most likely come from taxpayers"

It's called a public service announcement, but it's clearly in favor of Proposition 3, the so-called hotel or "hot tax" proposal. It's a hike of up to two percent in hotel taxes and fees--revenue designated to pay for more than 70 percent of a new downtown stadium for Triple A baseball. The sports group in charge of bringing a team to El Paso has not yet purchased a team. Without a team, stadium funding would become moot, because no stadium would be built.

Tripper Goodman, with the El Paso Tomorrow Politicial Action Committee, says without approval of proposition 3, the city will have to pay for the stadium "some way, somehow".

He gives a not too subtle warning to voters:  either approve proposition 3, or get stuck with the entire stadium bill as taxpayers.  Goodman says, "The approval will be based on the citizens either voting for hotel guests to pay for the ballpark or for themselves to pay for the ballpark." 

Opponents of Prop 3, including many hotels themselves, argue that another two percent would raise El Paso hotel room taxes and fees to 17.5 percent, higher than Houston or San Antonio, which are both high-volume travel and convention cities.  They argue the higher taxes would scare vistors away from El Paso, hurt the city in business and tourism guests, and not raise nearly enough funds to pay for the majority of the stadium. Still, those propped up about Prop 3 say, don't worry about it.  Goodman concludes, "That's another thing. When we go out of town nobody looks at what the tax on a room will be,  and in this case its negligible, only a dollar and forty cents a night."

Proposition 3 will appear on El Pasoans' ballot in November.

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