In the future will UTEP play its basketball games in a Downtown arena?
Downtown arena? It's well along in the planning stages, and there's strategy to sell it as a much-needed positive to the El Paso public.
Word is the city, county, Downtown people and pro-El Paso growth people are all teammed up to push a Downtown arena that will have good access to not only I-10, but to the coming Southern Relief Route (the international bridges out to the Sunland Park Exit on I-10).
Bet that a new arena is going to happen. And it may not cost the local taxpayers a whole lot of money. Before the public gets its first official whiff, other money-generating avenues will be lined up. (One idea is taking $2 million in Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT) money away from the Sports Commission and Coliseum (county) and using that money, instead, for the arena.
Razing the Coliseum is an issue; it will be a hotly contested debate because many, including myself, think there's a place for a new arena and the County Coliseum in El Paso. Small concerts. Local gatherings and fiestas — BYOB dances and such.
Anyway, right now the likely No. 1 site for a new arena is where City Hall sits (between I-10 and Paisano near the Union Depot night life area). Or, it could be near the international bridges if the Burlington railroad can be persuaded to move somewhere else, and quickly.
The city would moveits operations to the tall buildings district Downtown, possibly the Blue Flame Building, last used by the El Paso Independent School District. That's been talked about before.
On the same block as the present City Hall is the Insights Museum. The museum move has been talked about before, too. Supposedly the museum could move to a site near Sunland Park (where the dinosaur print was found). It's been in the news before. Somebody would have to actually build a new museum, though.
It will probably take at least five years to open the doors of a new arena, so any UTEP move would be down the road.
But just thinking ahead:
It's not like the Miners are a campus team, anyway. The Miners have always been El Paso "public" team. The Don is getting older.
It would be more convenient for El Pasoans to drive to a new arena Downtown than to find parking around UTEP; it's always a headache. The new parking garage helps, but it's still a traffic jam on Mesa Street.
Also, an arena Downtown would be a great boost for Downtown businesses, a major goal of the city and the movers and shakers.
They say an arena needs and "anchor" team to be successful? UTEP could be the new arena anchor team!