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Denver Voters To Decide On Potential & Controversial National Western Center Arena

DENVER (CBS4) - Denver voters will have their choice on five questions to see how big of a bond package is passed in the fall. Questions will revolve around new libraries, parks, sidewalks, and the controversial construction of a new arena and public market at the National Western Center.

On Monday, the Denver City Council voted 9-4 to put the arena proposal on the ballot. Some council members were concerned the proposal was too quick, only being introduced by Mayor Michael Hancock one month ago.

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Others said their constituents are evenly split, making it a good issue for voters to decide.

The loudest outcry over the arena is coming from the residents who will live closest.

"We want taxpayers to know this is something that we can fund another way," said Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca at a press conference before the council meeting on Monday. "We encourage voters to vote no on this specific National Western ballot question."

The Globeville Elyria Swansea Coalition organized the event Monday afternoon where residents expressed dismay, distrust and disgust.

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"We don't feel a part of the city. We do not reap the benefits of the city as it pushes us with its economic might," said Alfonso Espino, a member of the GES coalition. "We reject all projects that are not approved for the welfare of the community."

Other GES members urged the council to address housing and homelessness issues, gentrification and displacement in their neighborhood and emphasized they've been misled with promises from the National Western Center before.

Residents say they were promised a community investment fund seven years ago, the last time improvements to the stock show complex were on the ballot. They say a penny has never materialized. There's also concern the city hasn't held up its end of a community benefits agreement.

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Another community investment fund has been proposed with the new arena.

"To date we still do not have any commitments on what that revenue stream would be or where it would come from," CdeBaca said. "We're asking for something real, tangible."

GES has been urging the city to use the land for housing among other community benefits.

"Our futures are not exclusively tied to a public arena," Espino said.

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