Hidalgo mayor touts arena upgrades in state of the city address

HIDALGO — The mayor here touted planned upgrades to the city-owned State Farm Arena and announced a $116 million investment coming to Hidalgo during his annual state of the city address Thursday.

The event was marked by the council’s inability to see eye-to-eye, with only one faction present at Thursday’s address. Only three of the six elected leaders attended: Mayor Martin Cepeda and his two political allies, council members Rudy Franz and Oziel Treviño. Sergio Coronado, Noey Reyes and Gus Sanchez did not attend.

Cepeda, who is running for re-election, spoke briefly before a video presentation that highlighted some of the city departments and their accomplishments.

“To see Hidalgo grow, feeds my soul,” Cepeda said. “Compared to other cities our size, we are very, very active.”

He went on to list a number of festivals and events hosted by the city, including the Festival of Lights, which last year partnered with a national sponsor, Coca-Cola. He also listed some of his major accomplishments since being elected in 2012, most of which revolved around the opening of businesses, such as Walmart, Buffalo Wings and Rings and a second Whataburger.

“You are the reason I work hard for Hidalgo, “Cepeda told the audience of about 100 people.

Throughout the presentation the mayor and the video touted the city-owned arena.

“State Farm (Arena) will always be the premier entertainment venue in South Texas,” the voice on the video said.

The facility, which was able to lure a new Killer Bees junior league hockey team after the loss of the RGV Vipers of the NBA G League, will be upgraded to allow for a theater option, with seating available for acts designed for an audience of 2,500 or less.

“It’s the only venue in the Rio Grande Valley capable of receiving world-class entertainment,” the voice on the video said.

The arena is currently competing with the McAllen Performing Arts Center to book shows, and will soon have to compete with the new Bert Ogden Arena that is currently under construction in Edinburg, where the Vipers will move.

And to make the arena a bit more competitive, city leaders plan to construct an outdoor area where people will be able to purchase from food trucks and will also add a barbecue restaurant inside the facility.

“It’s the biggest entertainment venue in South Texas,” Cepeda said.

Before concluding the ceremony, the mayor took out a letter he said he received right before the event began and read it aloud. The correspondence came from a company that announcing its plans to construct a 1.4-million-square-foot cold storage facility that will bring a total investment of about $116 million to the city of Hidalgo.

The company will employ a minimum of 60 workers and is also donating a fire truck to the fire department, Cepeda said.