Austin judge rules in partial favor of the city for proposed downtown arena

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Austin judge rules in partial favor of the city for proposed downtown arena

Adrian Broaddus, Editor-In-Chief

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After a two-day hearing on the debate over whether a $180-million proposed arena will be permitted in the Duranguito neighborhood or not came to a close Tuesday afternoon as Travis County District Judge Amy Clark Meachum ruled with the city of El Paso that they can build a multi-purpose arena. However, the proposed facility cannot be a sporting events arena, as per the judge’s ruling.

Judge Clark Meachum asked for a follow-up hearing in early August to explain why she ruled the way she did.

On the first day of the hearing, the city attorney’s brought in a new claim as to whether or not the state will allow the use of a petition to make the Union Plaza untouchable by calling it a historical district.

This was reflective of the Duranguito residents’ petition of over 2,400 signees who are against the proposed arena and want the council to put it on a ballot to see if the community is in support of protecting Duranguito. If the vote would go in favor of making Duranguito a historical district, all construction of the arena would be stopped.

However, early in Tuesday’s hearing, Judge Clark Meachum ruled that she would not stop the petition from going into place, which benefited the Duranguito side for possibly further litigation down the line.

Both the city’s attorneys and the defense’s lawyers argued their sides with their own respective witnesses. The defense argued that the proposed bond in 2012 for the arena did not indicate any language regarding a sporting arena, thus ruling it out as a valid expense for the city.

The city, however, effectively argued that most tenants and business owners in the Duranguito area have already vacated. In fact, El Paso CFO Mark Sutter testified that in two buildings, 39 of 40 residential tenants and 65 of 66 commercial tenants accepted relocation deals from the city.

Others who testified included General Manager of Destination El Paso Bryan Crowe, local historian Dr. David Romo, El Paso Senator Jose Rodriguez and more.

Now, funds are approved for the arena, but the temporary restraining order the judge granted in June will be in effect until Aug. 1.

The hearing leaves a possibility for the case to go to an appellate court to review the judge’s ruling.

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