The city of El Paso will appeal an Austin judge’s decision on the controversial $180 million multipurpose performing arts and entertainment facility planned for Downtown El Paso.

Last Monday, Aug. 7, Civil District Court Judge Amy Clark Meachum ruled the city could move forward with plans to build the facility but may not build it as a “sports arena.”

After discussing the ruling in executive session during Tuesday’s City Council meeting, city reps voted 6-2 to appeal the court’s decision. City reps Alexsandra Anello and Sam Morgan voted against the measure.

The council specifically wants to seek clarification on the final judgment. The city and arena opponents disagree over whether sports can be held at the Downtown facility.

The temporary injunction that prevented the city from finalizing contracts, issuing demolition permits and purchasing property was lifted.

In her ruling, Meachum said the city could use bond money to build the multipurpose center in the Duranguito neighborhood. It could host musical performances, orchestra performances, theater and other stage performances and similar entertainment.

However, she said, the city cannot build a facility with money from the sale of 2012 quality of life bonds to “design, construct, improve, renovate or equip the facility in Downtown El Paso to be suitable for a sports arena.” The city also cannot use funding from other sources to enhance the facility, according to the ruling.

Both the city and opponents of the project were eager to see whether or not sporting events could be held at the proposed facility. Opponents argue the Duranguito neighborhood is historic and should be preserved. They say, without sports, the multipurpose center cannot be sustainable and would be a tax burden.

Hardy Heck Moore, an Austin-based historic preservation consulting company that is conducting a historic survey of Downtown El Paso, recently issued some preliminary findings. The company says six properties in Duranguito have historic value and may be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. 

In her ruling, Judge Meachum said she would not get involved in a legal dispute over a petition to create a Duranguito Historic District.

Opponents of the city’s plans to build the center in Duranguito are collecting signatures from voters as part of a push for a referendum to preserve the neighborhood.

Email El Paso Inc. reporter Aaron Montes at or call (915) 534-4422, ext. 105. Twitter: aaronmontes91