In a pretty surprising ruling, an Austin judge told the City of El Paso that they can build a multipurpose performing art and entertainment center, but they cannot build a sports arena.

The arena in the Union Plaza area of downtown was voted on in the Quality of Life bond election in 2012, but critics of the arena say the words ‘sports arena’ were not part of the bond and therefore taxpayer money should not be used to build one.

Here’s what the City says it got:

"The court ruled that we can build a new multipurpose performing art and entertainment center in downtown without any restriction to the location, which is what we wanted to do. We will be back in court in two weeks to enter a final judgement on that oral ruling.”

The group that fought the arena had previously brought a petition before City Council to prevent it from demolishing buildings to make way for the arena and managed to get a temporary injunction prohibiting the demolition of buildings within the arena footprint. The judge said when that temporary injunction runs out on August 1st, she will hold yet another hearing to finalize the details of her rulings.

There are still questions, such as, is the City allowed to have sporting events in the venue, or can any kind of events other than sporting events take place there?

The other fly in the ointment for the City is that the judge earlier said no to the City’s request to keep residents from petitioning for a historic preservation district in Durangito. That decision by the judge leaves the door open for the pro-Durangito faction to further delay the construction of the arena while they try to get a historic neighborhood designation.

Further delays could mean higher construction costs and a smaller arena with fewer amenities.

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