On Tuesday, city officials announced two fields at the Westside Sports Complex will receive significant upgrades funded by the private sector, under one of two agreements approved by City Council.
Council approved the agreement for improvements to the Westside Sports Complex. Council will vote on the agreement for upgrades to Southwest University Park at a public hearing scheduled for October 16.
“We welcome these tremendous and unique opportunities to invest in our Ballpark and elevate the conditions of two fields at the Westside Soccer Complex without burdening our taxpayers,” Capital Improvement Department Director Sam Rodriguez said. “While these facilities will serve a dual purpose for a temporary period, the improvements resulting from these agreements will be enjoyed by our community for years to come.”
The agreement allows MSSG to use two fields at the Westside Sports Complex, at 201 Isela Rubalcava Boulevard, as a temporary training and practice site for El Paso’s new professional soccer team in exchange for approximately $500,000 in upgrades to bring two of the complex’s fields up to USL requirements.
As for the second agreement, if approved, MountainStar Sports Group (MSSG) will invest more than $3.5 million into Southwest University Park to allow the 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 Ballpark by MSSG.
Both agreements would be active 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).
The terms for the Ballpark were in the form of an amendment to the existing lease. The agreement for the Westside Sports Complex grants the USL team preferential access to two out of the 13 flat fields at the complex and to an adjacent parking area, which is currently restricted to Parks and Recreation Department employees.
The improvements will be completed in time for the team’s inaugural training camp starting in January 2019.
The City of El Paso will continue to offer organized sporting events on all 13 fields. The two flat fields used by the USL team will be available for youth sports programming and local tournaments when not in use by the professional club or undergoing maintenance or recovery.
Alan Ledford, president of MSSG and El Paso USL, said, “These improvements to Southwest University Park and the two fields at the Westside Soccer Complex allow us to meet the standards set by the governing body of US Soccer and United Soccer League in order to have a USL professional soccer team in our community. The long-term benefits for the local youth soccer community and the economic competitiveness of our region will be significant.”