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Commissioners talk about future plans for El Paso County Coliseum

Commissioners talk about future plans for El Paso County Coliseum

El Paso County commissioners talked about a possible plan for the Coliseum Monday, but its future is still uncertain.

The contract doesn't expire until 2021, but commissioners wanted to get a jump-start on a long-term plan.

The Coliseum holds 6,500 people. Commissioners are now re-evaluating what will happen to the 74-year-old building once the contract expires.

Brian Kennedy heads up the sports commission, a nonprofit contracted to operate the facility through the end of the contract in September of 2021.

Kennedy said the coliseum adds $600,000 to $700,000 a year to the county's general fund.

"The concept of maybe closing the coliseum or selling the property is probably not a good idea if we want to keep entertainment coming to El Paso," Kennedy said.

County Judge Veronica Escobar told KFOX14 that's at the expense of millions of dollars in hotel occupancy tax funds.

"Eighty-three percent of our hotel-motel tax dollars go just to the coliseum. That is a lot of money that we cannot utilize for other purposes. One of our other goals is historic preservation and heritage tourism. Hotel-motel tax money can be used for that but we can't necessarily do both," Escobar said.

The county has also raised concerns that the coliseum may be in direct competition with the City's new Multipurpose Cultural and Performing Arts Center.

It was approved by voters in the 2012 quality of life bond and is set to be finished in 2022. It will seat 12,000 people, comparable to the Don Haskins Center.

Kennedy said the two venues would not be in direct competition.

"What we do and they do are two totally different things. We do a lot of community events that a bigger arena wouldn't want to have -- whether it's the Abundant Living Faith Center, the Region 19 Christmas -- where we are the community's building, and you should have a community building in every city," Kennedy said.

Escobar said the process to figure out how much it costs to maintain the facility could take a year. Time that Kennedy said is sensitive for booking events.

"We book so far in advance that it's important that we know what's going to happen to it in the future so we can continue to re-book three years ahead for 'Disney on Ice.' If we suddenly say, 'Well we are not sure if we are going to be here in five years,' it may hamper us and our ability to continue to book acts in the future," Kennedy said.

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