DALLAS — El Paso will not be liable for any of the $10 million in additional costs needed to complete a downtown baseball stadium funded with $60.8 million of city revenue bonds.
The city capped its costs at the existing $64 million limit and team owners will absorb the additional $6 million to $10 million needed to complete the 9,400-seat ballpark, Mayor Oscar Leeser said Monday.
Investors in the team set to occupy the new ballpark next spring proposed in September to reimburse the city for stadium expenses above $64 million, Leeser said after a meeting between city officials and team owner MountainStar Sports Group.
The offer was rejected, Leeser said.
"The city of El Paso has agreed to spend not a penny more than $64 million," he said. "That was determined in council some time ago, and we are not going to spend one penny over $64 million."
The City of El Paso Downtown Development Corp issued $60.8 million of revenue bonds backed by the city's hotel tax for its share in the stadium costs. The bonds are also supported by team lease payments and a ticket surcharge.
MountainStar agreed to a supplemental agreement reached during the discussions making the investor group responsible for stadium costs of more than $64 million, Leeser said.
"They've agreed to pay for that, with no strings attached and no stipulations, to build the kind of stadium they want," he said.
"They (the team owners) have some great ideas," Leeser said. "They want to make this stadium something that the city can be proud of."
The supplemental agreement puts an end to the ballpark funding controversy, Leeser said.
"This is how we're going to handle it," he said.
MountainStar vice president Josh Hunt said the investors never asked the city to pay more than $64 million for the ballpark.
"We regret the headlines and newscasts over the last two days that stated or implied MountainStar was asking for more money for the ballpark," Hunt said. "That is not the case, and it's unfortunate it was perceived this way."
El Paso City Council agreed in June to a $10 million increase in the ballpark budget to add more party suites and premium seating to the venue.
It's too early to predict a final cost, Hunt said, but the stadium may eventually cost $68 million to $72 million, "There have been no design changes," he said. "Some things are more expensive than we had anticipated."
Work is under way on the ballpark in downtown El Paso, with bids sought on 80% of the project. It is to be completed by opening day of the 2014 minor league baseball season. The stadium will have 7,000 seats and a total capacity of 9,500.
MountainStar Sports purchased the Class AAA Tucson Padres in 2012 and plans to move the Pacific Coast League team to El Paso for the 2014 season.