Joe Muench: Whatta ya know, we didn’t get poisoned after all

By Joe Muench / El Paso Times

Those cries of “they’ll poison us” went for nil.

The Asarco smokestacks fell to oohs and aahs, not hacking and ah-choos. The cloud of dust wasn’t much more than a windy day in April.

So what can we get riled up about now?

City Hall is also demolished, making make way for the Downtown ballpark. Done deal.

Can we gripe about “tax-and-spend” elected officials some more? Not when voters, by a landslide, recently OK’d more than $700 million in quality-of-life projects.

  • And to those who say they’ll boycott the baseball games? Yah, sure, up until the time your children or grandchildren tell you different.
  • Congratulations to UTEP on its 100th anniversary celebration … and almost 100 years of bad football.

But just in her couple of decades or so as president, Diana Natalicio, our favorite school marm, has done wonders on that former little bump of Bhutanese-style buildings. The curriculum has skied and so as the skyline.

  • Please, already! I keep hearing people say the new ballpark will fail. Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard of a ballpark failing.
  • Don’t say the former Major League Baseball-affiliated El Paso Diablos moved because they failed. No, the out-of-town owners found an out-of-town moneybags.

When El Pasoan Jim Paul owned the Diablos, he’d have never sold to anyone who said they planned to move the team away from here. But two majority ownership groups later?

The owners of our new Triple-A franchise are contracted to stay here at least 20 years.

Are you aware the Diablos were sold to a Springfield, Mo., ba-jillionaire, but did not move to his stadium in Springfield?

His deal: He wanted the Double-A St. Louis Cardinals to play in Springfield, a logical wish. He cut a deal with the Tennessee franchise owner, who traded his Cardinal franchise piece of paper for what was the Arizona Diamondbacks’ El Paso franchise piece of paper.

A look at the Southern League standings shows the Diamondbacks now play in Mobile, Ala.

El Paso will get the San Diego Padres’ Triple-A team next season. Their Double-A team plays in San Antonio. Both are easy Southwest Airlines hops.

You may ask, what’s this trading for a franchise “piece of paper?”

The Hunts and the Fosters do not own the El Paso Triple-A players’ contracts. The San Diego Padres do. And the uniforms and the bats … and they pay the salaries.

The “piece of paper” simply allows a minor league owner to stage games for the major league franchise’s affiliates.

They also pay, in our case, the city, rent money to use the city-owned ballpark. They also have to maintain the facility. Yep, that includes mowing the grass.

Owners make their money on ticket revenues, concessions, sponsorships, ads and sometimes a share of parking receipts.

They also have to pay salaries of their staff.

So naysayers can certainly see the two families will recoup their $20 million-plus “piece of paper” purchase price by a month into the first season. Or not?

  • I saw the artist’s rendition of the far East Side spa ghetti bowl. When completed, it’ll far out-awe even that neat new roller-coaster going up at our amusement-park-in-exile, Western Playland.

I’m waiting for the day some construction company, somewhere in America, messes up and forgets to build an off-ramp on one of those twisty things.

Sorta like in the Chevy Chase movie, “Family Vacation,” where Clark Griswold can’t get off a roundabout in Rome.

Joe Muench may be reached at