KFOX14 Investigates: Costs for arena lawsuit exceed $1.3 million
EL PASO, Texas (KFOX14) —
We now know how much the city is losing on the downtown arena lawsuit.
KFOX14 Investigates found out how it’s all adding up.
The lawsuit between the city of El Paso and architectural historian Max Grossman is nearing its second year.
The legal battle over the historic relevance of the Durangito neighborhood and the arena’s placement is becoming quite pricey.
In documents provided to KFOX14 Investigates the city says it has spent $1.3 million in legal fees thus far.
That money, city engineer Sam Rodriguez said, is needed elsewhere.
“We've heard from the community. Streets, parks and public safety being a high priority for our city, there's never enough resources,” said Rodriguez.
For example, Rodriguez said that money could have paid for paving 12,000 feet of roadway, five new pothole patchers, the salary of 21 police officers for a year or a new fire truck and ambulance.
“When you think about the wins the city has had, I think it's unfortunate. You could see it as lost money, but obviously there is a process for them to pursue their agenda as well,” said Rodriguez.
In addition to litigation costs, Rodriguez says the price of the arena will continue to go up.
Construction costs increase every year. He said there is an average 5 percent annual increase on construction costs.
With a budget of $180 million for the arena, that comes out to a loss of $9 million a year, about $18 million since litigation started.
“There are definitely opportunities and needs for the community to be able to use that money that unfortunately has been spent on legal costs,” said Rodriguez.
Grossman, who canceled an interview with KFOX14 Investigates on the advice of legal counsel, responded with a statement.
In part, he said the city initiated the litigation, and he argues:
“It is interesting to us how the mayor publicly laments the million or two the city has had to spend on litigation in multiple courts because of its many missteps and violations of our laws; yet the same mayor has proposed adding up to $70,000,000 to the cost of the 'arena.'”
The court battle continues into 2019, and the costs are expected to rise.