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February 26, 2014

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El Paso's problem is, that when they elect reasonably smart people, they sell them out. So voters retaliate by electing really dumb people. Apparently, it's what makes the world go around in this shithole. But it is good entertainment.

Wilson holds all the cards as far as staff goes. When she is away, Leeser is reduced to what our city charter makes the mayor - the emcee but little else.

No RP - Leeser lacks leadership skills, his staff is completely green and has no understanding of government and how it works. So whether Wilson is physically there or not or some other CM, if Leeser can't seem to get his act together and educate himself on the issues and how to lead/govern then there is no hope for him. At a minimum he had from Thursday at noon until Tuesday at 8 a.m. to ask his questions and get up to speed on the Conference USA issue. I blame his staff completely for his inability to "be informed, educated, advised, told" what the issues are at council. Every single one of the council members has a duty to the citizens/taxpayers to completely and thoroughly understand the issues presented to them and I am sick and tired of them constantly blaming staff. They did away with LRC's which is a HUGE opportunity to thoroughly vet an issue and allow public input at the same time. Their incompetence is THEIR fault - not staff. Get a clue council or go home.

My general opinion of the C-USA event, is the same as my opinion of the new baseball team/park - if it's a blockbuster deal guaranteed to make money, then there is an investor willing to play and profit with his own dollars, not mine. However, following the bit of discussion on the topic, I admittedly ended up with quite a few questions that seem relevant to forming a big picture.

I think there would be a reasonable case that a contract that was still being written in December, was just now going to Council for a vote with only 2 weeks to the event date should be raising some questions. It seems like there should have been a memo or two circulated well before its arrival on the agenda last Thursday that said "this is what the proposal is". I do wonder if we can get some clarification on the dollars involved? My information has the City direct contribution as $100,000 plus $10,000 in miscellaneous expenses AND indemnifying the C-USA against any losses.

I just may be ignorant on the topic of "really big events". Anything I've been involved in that requires large scale venues and ticket sales requires event insurance that covers unforeseen problems - whether it's weather or bleachers collapsing. There is a difference between contributing to an event and indemnifying the event holder against losses. Something I've not seen reported is what the City of El Paso receives in return for the $110,000 contribution besides prestige. I'm not big on prestige as a return on investment unless it's an event that you're hosting every year with a huge fan base. The Houston Livestock Show has prestige (and it's privately funded and hugely profitable).

I saw a mention that the County has tax dollars involved in the C-USA event as well as the Sports Authority (which is sort of our tax money too).... but no dollar amounts. I haven't seen what UTEP's stake in the event is or are they just a vendor? I'm also curious about exactly which entity is the primary sponsor that went to C-USA and presented the bid? and how does that original bid compare to the final contract? That does make a difference in how you view these events.

And finally, does the City indemnify other large scale events?

Dot, if I remember correctly it was the City, through the CVB, that lobbied CUSA for the tournament. The Sports group also participated. It can be documented how much money the tournament brings. It was held in El Paso a couple of years ago and generally thought to be a good source of revenue for hotels, restaurants and so on -- which of course brings in sales tax revenue.

David, I am not sure if you actually watched the meeting or if someone gave you information, but I watched it, and I did not see the Mayor not wanting to participate. Rather he was upset that CVB brought the contract before council so late. Brian Kennedy made a comment that his organization would be happy to the be ones to guarantee the money, but even if council had wanted to do that, it was too late to change everything.

"Just saying", I respectfully disagree with you on this one. I think CVB totally dropped the ball. They are responsible for providing information to mayor and council when they submit the item to be placed on the agenda. I don't think CVB did this.

I thought it was either CVB or the Chamber that had pushed the event and I'd certainly be interested in seeing the original bid made to C-USA vs the final contract. I've worked on writing those types of proposals and they usually include a lot of "pie in the sky" thinking. I have trouble with sales tax revenues being much of a return. El Paso receives .0100 out of the .0825.

The argument for additional restaurant revenues is valid but those earning the largest portion of the windfall are in a limited area. Assuming 25,000 meals are served that's about $2-3000 in sales taxes. It's a little cavalier to ask all business owners in El Paso to provide a windfall for a limited number of businesses. (Normal, but cavalier none the less.)

The county does collect a little more for HOT taxes on hotel rooms, but again, I don't see a huge pool of dollars there. The teams and their cheerleaders/bands travel under University purchase orders for discounted rooms and are tax exempt. Just a small caveat here - the universities frequently contract with the hotels to include 1 or 2 meals a day for the teams. With C-USA I don't have a reference for how many parents and fans travel to the tournament. What I've observed in other conferences is that it's a smaller group; with the larger group of fans saving their dimes for the NCAA tourneys.

Rental cars might do okay, since we ding the heck out of visitors with the added taxes there that benefit the Sun Bowl. But again, the biggest number of rentals are going to be traveling on tax exempt University vouchers.

I don't see a huge windfall for shopping. We don't offer any "must visit" stores or venues. We're just not a shopping meca and never will be. When my kids have traveled for Conference and NCAA tournaments, the usual MO is that they can go wherever their feet can carry them on their own time. Unfortunately, our theaters - which would be a good draw for people needing to kill time - aren't easily accessible.

It seems the biggest money maker here is UTEP. They will be charging for usage of multiple facilities in addition to the Don. The food contractor will do well and the maintenance, security guards and ushers will get lots of hours - so that part is a plus. Downside is all that revenue stays with the vendors and UTEP - No percentage transfers to the City. We should count the Conference Reps and Game Officials somewhere - none of them are local, so not sure how that benefits El Paso directly.

At the end of the day, I don't see the big payoff for the community that merits a $110000 (if that is the correct number) investment. And I still don't see a case for the City to be indemnifying C-USA against losses. That's what Events insurance policies do.

That leaves us back to Prestige... and that's for an event that no one will remember you hosted in a couple of weeks.

Angie Diaz is 100% correct.

http://www.elpasotimes.com/news/ci_25260487/4-1m-economic-impact-ep
Interesting article over at the Times regarding the C-USA tourney. Lots of "food for thought" data in there.... and lots of information not included.

- In 2011: "That tournament had expenses of about $1.422 million and revenues of about $1.373 million — with the Sports Commission paying for the $49,800 shortfall."

- The 2014 projection is for "the event is expected to have an economic impact of up to $4.1 million."

- I'm guessing that the largest share of the revenues will be the hotels: "About 83 percent of the county's hotel taxes go to support the commission" which is only on the hook to guarantee "$50,000 of the shortfall".

-"The tournament's expenses for the city are estimated at $1.1 million — including the $500,000 guarantee — and is expected to generate about $1.4 million in ticket sales, Crowe said. Any revenues above the guaranteed amount would be split between UTEP and C-USA, Crowe added."

And just my thought on whether there is a risk of a significant shortfall - We've got a major storm system shutting down airports that connect to El Paso right now.

And I'm still curious why there is no mention of events insurance. If I want to have a ballet recital at UTEP, I've got to have insurance indemnifying UTEP in case we fail to cover the costs or cause damage to the facility.

Word on the street in Fort Worth is they were looking for someone they can control. The city council in Fort Worth is what our's aspires to be like. They have a city manager they control so they can insert themselves in the day-to-day stuff that goes on like zoning and syndicated cases. Word on the street is suddenly an internal candidate will arise and will shine like a huge Beacon.

It looks like the CVB is lost without Bill Blazik's bullshit presentations why taxpayers should front money for events while their buddies take the profits to the bank...Maybe this is why Oscar balked at the last minute cuz he knew nobody would be able to defend this "prestigious" event's calling for a paltry $25,000.00. If it was such a great money maker somebody with great business sense would surely step in and cover it. The City cannot fund everything in El Paso because there is not the sufficient tax base to support it. The Conference USA is a third tier league and the tournament should only recieve what the schools put into their programs to be successful and compete at the national level. This was Steve Ortega's idea from the beginning anyway and I don't think Joyce cared to defend this otherwise she would have prepared staff to recommend this item with more energy.

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