The road to history: El Paso Chihuahuas prepare for first home opener

    By: Ruben Veloz

    EL PASO, Texas-- After a 24-game road trip to start off the 2014 season, the El Paso Chihuahuas are finally home.

    The Chihuahuas will play in their home opener in El Paso's new baseball stadium.

    The city broke ground on the stadium on May 30, 2013.

    As KFOX14 reported, the stadium was originally set to open on April 11, but because of some delays Mountain Star Sports Group had to push back the home opener to Monday, April 28, 2014.

    That forced the Chihuahuas to play on the road and at their old stomping grounds in Tucson, Arizona, where they formally played as the Tucson Padres.

    The stadium originally cost $50 million, but later went up to $72 million.

    The city said it would only pay up to $64 million, which will be paid back using a hotel occupancy tax which was passed by voters in November 2012.

    It all started back in June 2012, when Mountain Star Sports Group announced plans to bring a Triple-A baseball team to El Paso. Not everyone was excited about the plan, including current city Rep. Eddie Holguin.

    "Well it doesn't surprise me. Obviously council had decided to shove this down the throats to the citizens of El Paso," said Holguin back in 2012. But despite some opposition, El Paso City Council voted 4-3 to sign with Mountain Star Sports Group and build the new baseball stadium a few months later on September of 2012.

    Then on April 14, 2013, El Paso's 30-year-old City Hall was demolished to make way for the new Triple-A baseball stadium, a day that would change the downtown El Paso landscape forever.

    After the demolition of city hall, work quickly began to clear up the debris for the official ground breaking of the stadium on May 30, 2012.

    On Oct. 22, 2013, the team's name was finally announced and the El Paso Chihuahuas were born.

    KFOX14 spoke with Shae Vierra that day, the man who submitted the name to the team and won free season tickets for one whole year.

    "I thought it would be a good Mascot for my children and also we live in the Chihuahuan desert so I thought it kind of checked all the boxes," said Vierra.

    Not everyone was excited about the name, but despite the name, merchandise sold quickly.

    Despite Mountain Star Sports Group having to delay the opening day three weeks after its original opening date, El Pasoans excitedly awaited the upcoming game day at the new stadium which was soon officially named Southwest University Park.

    The Chihuahuas will be playing against the Fresno Grizzlies, starting at 7:05 p.m.

    The game is sold out, but KFOX14 checked online, and there are still tickets available for the rest of the season.

    To learn more, visit the WWW.EPCHIHUAHUAS.COM

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