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Ballpark project not a done deal just yet

Published On: Sep 10 2012 11:42:05 PM CDT
Updated On: Jan 14 2014 04:01:14 PM CST

Reporter: Rick Cabrera

EL PASO, Texas -

There may be a glimmer of hope for those voters who feel disenfranchised by the baseball stadium deal and choice to build it on the current City Hall site.

On Sept. 18, City Council will vote on the final contract and Mayor John Cook could have the final say.

When City Council initially voted on June 26 on whether to spend up to $50 million to build a downtown baseball stadium, where City Hall now sits, Cook was at an energy conference in Denver.

Cook told ABC-7 he committed to be there four months earlier and asked City Manager Joyce Wilson to "make sure that agenda was a light one with nothing controversial on it."

"I don't think you could've come up with something more controversial. I was a little bit disappointed," Cook said.

Cook said Monday he understands why council picked City Hall. The City already owned the property and it wouldn't require the use of eminent domain, but he's still not sold on the location.

"One of the communities they always point out to us is Oklahoma City. Well, Oklahoma City didn't take a perfectly good building and tear it down and build a stadium. They took a blighted area," Cook explained.

And he's not convinced a ballpark alone will revitalize Downtown.

"I believe it's the icing on the cake, but it's not the cake," the mayor said. "For instance, I believe the most critical component of downtown revitalization is the residential component."

The mayor could also use his veto, but six city representatives originally voted in favor of demolishing City Hall. That's enough to override his veto.

When asked if he would be tempted to veto the project if one of those six representatives was to change his or her mind and the vote became 5-3, Cook replied, "We'll see what happens. I always hate to predict what I'm going to do. It depends on the arguments that are presented, how passionate people are."

ABC-7 also reached out to the city representatives to find out if any of them were reconsidering their vote.

District 5 Rep. Dr. Michiel Noe said he still has some concerns, but met with the city manager Monday and feels better about the deal.

Last week District 3 Representative Emma Acosta said she doesn't necessarily have any concerns, but still wants to see the final contract.

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