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UTEP Proposes Major ‘Uplift’ to Iconic Sun Bowl

Upgrades to El Paso’s largest venue will help attract bigger, better acts

• Tourism, retail, retention impact of Sun Bowl Uplift equals $2.06 billion over 30 years
• Uplift projected to create more than 605 new jobs
• Sun Bowl is only El Paso facility large enough to attract major stars

EL PASO, Texas (May 24, 2024) — The University of Texas at El Paso proposed today to improve the Sun Bowl by adding features needed to attract more and bigger touring shows and increase local jobs and tax revenue to the community while doing so. To fund the project, UTEP has asked El Paso County officials to add the Sun Bowl Uplift project to a capital improvement bond that will be brought to voters in November. The estimated cost of the project is $99 million.

UTEP Proposes Major ‘Uplift’ to Iconic Sun Bowl
Built in 1963, the Sun Bowl has welcomed more than 8 million fans throughout its history. Its namesake bowl game is the second oldest in the country and is watched by millions of fans across the country each year.

“The Sun Bowl is the only place that can host some of these large shows,” said UTEP President Heather Wilson. We don’t use it enough, but it needs an uplift to attract major acts that currently just drive through El Paso. Working together with El Paso County, I think we can do more.”

Wilson explained that while the Sun Bowl is the largest venue in the region — no other can seat anywhere close 46,000 guests — it requires infrastructure upgrades to make it a compelling venue for many major concerts and events. It’s currently only used about 30 days a year.

Sun Bowl Uplift proposed changes include structural fixes, an improved electrical system to power the biggest shows, an all-drivable field cover system needed by top acts, widened access for 18-wheelers needed by major concert tours, and improvements to support A-list acts and positively enhance the fan experience, like revamped concessions and restrooms. 

By adding eight more A-list events to the annual calendar, UTEP estimates an annual economic impact of tourism, tourism retention, and retail spending of $2.06 billion over the life of a 30-year bond. Over that same time period, UTEP estimates more than $82 million in tax revenue generated for El Paso from the new activity. In addition, UTEP projects the economic impact will create more than 605 new jobs. A study also shows that a lot of El Pasoans travel to other cities like Phoenix, Austin, Dallas and Las Vegas to see large shows – spending their disposable income on hotels and flights there instead of here.

“We are excited to hear about UTEP's plans to renovate the iconic Sun Bowl,” said Andrea Hutchins, CEO of the El Paso Chamber. “Their commitment to enhancing such a significant venue, while diversifying the types of events it hosts, is commendable. We look forward to seeing the Sun Bowl continue to serve as a vibrant hub for our community.”

Executive Director of the Sun Bowl Association, Bernie Olivas, added, “Any enhancements or improvements to the Sun Bowl Stadium would be a huge benefit not only for the Sun Bowl game, but for The University of Texas at El Paso, the city, the county, and the entire community. The Sun Bowl Stadium is an iconic figure nationally, and an improved facility would draw many more events to our city.”

"Over the past 15 years we have increased the number of events in the Don Haskins Center and we expect to attract a record-breaking 35 great acts this year for the community,” said Jorge Vazquez, executive director of special events at UTEP. “But there are only 12,000 seats in the Don. I know we can do more with the Sun Bowl, just like we have with the Don Haskins, but on a bigger scale."

Built in 1963, the Sun Bowl has welcomed more than 8 million fans throughout its history and hosted bands like the Rolling Stones, Ricky Martin and RBD. Its namesake bowl game is the second oldest in the country and is watched by millions of fans across the country each year.

UTEP based impact estimates on economic data and analysis from the Hunt Institute for Global Competitiveness.

For more information on the Sun Bowl Uplift project, visit

About The University of Texas at El Paso

The University of Texas at El Paso is America’s leading Hispanic-serving university. Located at the westernmost tip of Texas, where three states and two countries converge along the Rio Grande, 84% of our 24,000 students are Hispanic, and more than half are the first in their families to go to college. UTEP offers 171 bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs at the only open-access, top-tier research university in America.

Last Updated on May 24, 2024 at 9:00 AM | Originally published May 24, 2024

By MC Staff UTEP Marketing and Communications