Mountain Star works to bring new soccer stadium, team to El Paso
EL PASO, Texas - —
It's no secret Mountainstar Sports Group, the owner of the El Paso Chihuahuas, has wanted to bring professional soccer to the Borderland for several years.
KFOX14 has confirmed that Mountain Star is in the process of bringing the USL -- United Soccer League -- to El Paso.
It's essentially a farm league for Major League Soccer, but it's not just the franchise it's bringing.
Mountainstar is planning to build a brand new stadium for the new team to play in. The group originally wanted to bring an MLS team to the Borderland.
"We attempted MLS. We had several meetings with the commissioner, Don Garber, up in New York," said Josh Hunt, CEO for Mountainstar Sports Group. "Really, what we determined in those discussions was El Paso really wasn't ready for MLS."
So the group decided on the United Soccer League. A presentation created by Mountainstar shows several other cities with USL teams, including Austin, San Antonio and most recently McAllen in the Rio Grande Valley.
Hunt said the USL could be a stepping stone to the MLS.
"Several USL teams have made the move from USL to MLS. That includes places like Minneapolis, Orlando and Atlanta, so several other cities are taking the same path we view as a path we should take as well," Hunt said.
He said it's still in the preliminary planning phases, but the group wants to build the stadium downtown.
"We could continue with the downtown revitalization efforts, but that doesn't mean that it for sure has to be downtown. But that's clearly our preference," Hunt said.
There's even talks of building the structure above Interstate 10. It's called "capping the freeway."
"Just from a transformational civic standpoint. I think it would be great if our city would look at capping our freeway and creating some great civic space, park space and other uses potentially," Hunt said.
Those decisions are a long way out. So is the cost and how it would be paid for.
"I think anything that happens. it's going to have to require city and county participation in some form, so we plan to be meeting with both entities," Hunt said.
He added before anything happens, voters must give their approval.
The stadium Mountainstar is looking at would seat about 7,500 people. As for when the team could start playing, Hunt said we could see USL in the Borderland as early as 2018.