Special Report: What's next for Cohen?
POSTED: Tuesday, April 29, 2014 - 8:47am
UPDATED: Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - 8:33am
El Paso, TX — One door opens, another one closes, or that is what we thought when the El Paso Diablos moved to Joplin, Missouri.
What's next for El Paso's former signature ballpark, Cohen Stadium?
Former Diablos owner Jim Paul reminisced about Cohen's Opening Day, back in 1990, "It was terrible, nightmare, most stressful thing I have ever been through in my life." But when asked about how he felt about the current state of Cohen Stadium, his tone is much of the same.
"The last three to four years, I was very disappointed with how the Diablos independent team managed the field, it just got worse and worse." Paul said.
Paul feels like many other Northeast El Paso residents, fed up with a deteriorated Cohen Stadium, stunting the growth of the community.
"We need to have more events in the Northeast. We have nothing in the Northeast, nobody wants to build anything in the Northeast." said resident Veronica Hathaway.
Andy Morales shared a similar sentiment "It's such a shame that it's going to waste."
The sentiment is felt all the way to City Hall where Carl Robinson sits, representing Northeast El Paso on City Council.
"Cohen Stadium plays a part in the whole big picture in the revitalization of Northeast as a whole. First of all, Cohen Stadium is not going away." Robinson insists.
Robinson says the City is taking care of the old ballpark, even with the new ballpark taking the City's focus. He said, "Final assessment on the damage, and come up with a plan to maintain and keep it functional."
City Manager Joyce Wilson sent us a statement saying that there was 'No specific progress on any new project for the area. We wanted to regain control of the site and facility before moving forward with any new tenants or initiatives. There are several events planned for the site (parking area primarily) and those are being managed by SMG for the immediate term while we move forward with longer term planning. The focus now is securing and cleaning the site and then assessing the necessary repairs to make the facility productive again."
Robinson added a bit more of a timeline for us, he said the City assessment should take 60 to 90 more days to complete, within one year, a plan should be put together to fix Cohen Stadium. In two years, Cohen could be fixed and ready to rent out. As for the future, residents have plenty of opinions.
"A water park would be nice, make this area needs more growth." suggested Morales.
Northeast resident Erica Perales said "Seeing it vacant, just a waste of space, something that would bring people together."
"I do care, because that stadium is beautiful. They built it out of our taxes, and what they should do is something for these kids." said resident Raul Aguilar.
The city is looking to team up with El Paso Community College and EPISD for land in the area. Talks are to develop that entire area. A Sam's Club is already in the works for the corner of Diana and U.S.-54.
But Carl Robinson wants to reiterate once and again, "Cohen Stadium is not going away. We made a big investment back in 1990, it's pride for Northeast El Paso, and we want to keep it in a good state of water."
Several other options were thrown at Robinson, maybe a soccer park or a concert arena, possibly Music Under the Stars. He said those are all viable options. As for the land nearby, EPISD could move their headquarters there in 2016 when their current lease is up, and that entire area from Woodrow Bean to Diana would be looked at for developing.