POSTED: Thursday, September 20, 2012 - 12:45pm
UPDATED: Friday, September 21, 2012 - 1:20pm
EL PASO — In a milestone decision to refrain from using his veto power, Mayor Cook stated he "found it in the best interest of the city" to move forward with City Council's decision to build a baseball stadium in downtown El Paso. The stadium would house a Triple A baseball team.
The decision came after a 3-4 vote in City Council Tuesday to proceed with the plans for a ballpark, with heavy public passion surrounding the issue from both sides.
Mayor Cook cited his reluctance to possibly lose an opportunity for a Triple A team if he decided to veto Council's vote. This came after having heard more than 5 hours of public testimony during Tueday's council session. He also economic decisions involving Quality of Life projects require no voter approval, despite a public petition calling for voter involvement on the issue that was shot down by council on Tuesday. He stated other Quality of Life projects proceeded and succeeded without voter approval, including the Plaza Theater and the El Paso Art Museums, both being "gems" to the city.
In regards to the demolition of City Hall, the property area was the better choice to make room for the stadium as opposed to an alternate site nearby that would have caused the city to incure more expenses, the Mayor said. In addition, he said this would have slowed progress for building a ballpark.
In his decision, the Mayor said he wanted to avoid a negative impact to the Quality of Life election in terms of ballpark supporters' involvement in the election. The bond election, according to Mayor Cook, includes projects for the entire City and will provide the funding to pay for the stadium without using taxpayer money.
MountainStar Sports group responded to the Mayor's decision publicly in a press release with the following statement:
“The members of MountainStar Sports Group join the people of El Paso in celebrating the vision and forward-thinking action taken by our Mayor and City Council members this week to commit to build a downtown ballpark for El Paso’s Triple-A baseball team."
“We thank Mayor John Cook for his strong leadership on this critical decision for El Paso’s future, and for honoring the Council’s decision to build a ballpark in Downtown El Paso. We also thank the members of City Council for considering this issue so diligently and for ultimately standing by their commitment to El Paso, to the Pacific Coast League, Minor and Major League Baseball, and to our Group.
“This issue was controversial, and difficult questions were addressed on both sides. At its conclusion, we believe this is a momentous step forward for El Paso. As the ownership group, we pledge to bring a team to the City that El Pasoans will be proud of and a quality product they will enjoy.”
The group said a formal announcement of Minor League and Major League Baseball approvals and finalization of team acquisition is expected soon.