On Friday afternoon, city officials announced they had reached an agreement with MountainStar Sports Group (MSSG) to invest more than $2.5 million into the City-owned Southwest University Park and two fields at the Westside Sports Complex under two separate agreements to be considered by El Paso City Council.
The agreements will be reviewed at a public hearing on October 2, 2018.
“These proposed agreements are a great example of the public benefit of creative alliances,” Capital Improvement Department Director Sam Rodriguez said. “With the help of MountainStar Sports Group, we can make significant improvements to two city-owned facilities without asking taxpayers to cover the costs, and the investments support the City’s vision of providing our community with exceptional recreational opportunities.”
Under one proposal, MSSG will invest approximately $2 million into Southwest University Park to allow the City-owned Ballpark to host home games for the inaugural season of El Paso’s new United Soccer League (USL) team. This is in addition to more than $15 million already invested in the City-owned Ballpark by MSSG.
The second proposed agreement allows MSSG to use the Westside Sports Complex, located at 201 Isela Rubalcava Boulevard, as a temporary practice site for El Paso’s new professional soccer team. MSSG will invest more than $500,000 to upgrade and renovate two of the complex’s fields to meet USL requirements. MSSG will also maintain these fields to ensure professional field standards are continued.
If approved by Council, both agreements would be in place until the USL team’s permanent soccer-specific stadium and training and practice fields are built. USL is the highest level of professional soccer in the U.S. next to Major League Soccer (MLS).
“We are excited to expose the youth soccer community to professional training operations, as well as El Paso USL team coaches and players, at the Westside Sports Complex. We look forward to working with the City of El Paso Parks and Recreation Department,” said Alan Ledford, President of MountainStar Sports Group. “Our investment in the practice facility will result in a long-term benefit for youth soccer programming.”
The proposed terms for the ballpark are in the form of an amendment to the existing lease for the venue.
The proposal for the Westside Sports Complex grants the USL team preferential access to two out of the 13 fields at the complex and to an adjacent parking area, which is currently restricted to Parks and Recreation Department employees.
The improvements would be completed in time for the team’s inaugural training camp starting in January 2019.
Under the proposal, the two fields could be available for youth soccer programming when not in use by the professional club or undergoing maintenance and recovery. Events could include championship games for local youth soccer leagues and tournaments, as well as coach and player clinics conducted by the USL Club.
“The addition of high-quality soccer facilities at the Westside Sports Complex will have such a positive impact not only for local, but regional, soccer. Having opportunities to watch the professional team practice, attend coach development clinics, and host special events, such as championship tournament games, will be wonderful for the youth soccer community,” said Teresa Sosa, Director of Cobras Soccer Events.
“El Paso USL’s training fields at the Westside Soccer Complex will benefit many groups, including UTEP Soccer. We could potentially play a spring game there or host other events such as clinics,” said Kevin Cross, Head Coach of UTEP’s Women’s Soccer Team. “What a thrill for our youth soccer leagues of El Paso to get to watch the professionals train.”
“Our organization looks forward to playing adjacent to El Paso USL at the Westside Sports Complex. Our growing soccer community will surely benefit from the planned additions and improvements to the fields,” FC Dallas-West Soccer Club Director Miguel Murillo commented. “Plus, the kids will get to see their sports heroes hard at work, which is definitely an inspiration.”