El Paso Chihuahuas: Years in the making

Sunday, April 27, 2014 - 11:12pm

Triple A's journey to El Paso has been mixed with equal parts excitement and controversy. El Paso city leaders have been working on getting Triple A Baseball to the Sun City for years. But it wasn't until 2012 that it seemed like a viable option but in order to win the bid, city leaders had to build a ballpark for the San Diego Padres affiliate.

Before 1 Civic Center Plaza came down in April 2013 -- the talks began. "The final step would be getting certification from Triple-A for El Paso to be a Triple A city,” Steve Ortega, former El Paso City Representative said in June 2012.

City Council made the announcement in March 2012, El Paso would play ball, but city hall needed to come down first. While the excitement of some on council clearly shined some El Pasoans felt like they were left in the dark.

"City council should hold themselves to a very high standard they have not in this instance,” Stephanie Townseld Allala, an El Paso lawyer said in July 2012.

Anti-ball park groups mobilized but in November 2012 -- Prop 3 was approved by voters, raising the hotel-motel tax for the ballpark.

Flash forward about a year - and with construction already underway... MountainStar sports revealed the team's mascot: The Chihuahuas!

Again, a polarizing issue. "Chihuahuas is like a little dog,” Dolores Licerio told us back in October of 2013. ‘Chico’ the Chihuahua, brought on a whole new slew of criticism. Some, however, saw it as a marketing ploy. "Yeah, I wasn't too pleased with the name at first but now it has started to grow on me now that just seeing the store, yeah,” Gabriel Moreno explained to us in October 2013.

Then, the opening day delay. A home game slated for April 11 -- pushed to this Monday, April 28th. When the ballpark funding went before voters, the price tag was $50 million that's now $64 million. Mountain Star will pay for anything above that amount. But Mayor Oscar Leeser has made it clear: the city will not pay a penny more over $64 million.


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