After Albuquerque voters rejected a $50-million bond issue to finance a new New Mexico United stadium, owner Peter Trevisani is making another run at a new facility, focusing on three locations outside the city core.
As the 2022 season nears an end next weekend, New Mexico United leads USL Championship in per-match attendance at 10,474 fans per game while playing out of Isotopes Park, home of MiLB’s Albuquerque Isotopes. This isn’t a long-term solution, with USL mandating all Championship teams playing out of soccer-specific venues by 2026, when the World Cup competition arrives in the United States. (New Mexico United isn’t the only squad facing this issue, as we’ll see in a minute.) That means New Mexico United needs to have a new stadium plan in place and, as we near the end of 2022, the deadlines to plan, build and finance a new stadium are looming.
The current New Mexico United shifts from a downtown, taxpayer-based facility to a privately financed facility–likely with some level of government participation–outside the city’s downtown area, with potential sites narrowed down to the West Side, suburban Mesa del Sol and the Isotopes Park area, using new stadiums in Louisville and Colorado Springs as inspirations. The USL Championship vision of a soccer-specific venue as a multi-use venue is also at play here. From the Albuquerque Journal:
“We can get it done in time,” he said in an interview with the Journal. “We could have a site within the next 60 days and then put a (financing and construction) plan in place within six months. It’s important to get rolling, especially if we want to be on the grass by 2025.”…
Trevisani said recent speculation about three potential sites — Albuquerque’s West Side, Mesa del Sol and the Isotopes Park area — is not unfounded. He declined to be more specific, but confirmed the club has explored West Side property and held “discussions” about building in the Mesa del Sol area where United’s training facility is located.
“We’ve been looking at three different areas and we’re close on a couple of parcels,” Trevisani said. “We want an attractive location that’s within the city limits and where we can be a catalyst for positive change, not just a place to play soccer.”
Also facing a similar issue: El Paso Locomotive, controlled by the owners of the El Paso Chihuahuas (Triple-A; Pacific Coast League) and playing out of Southwest University Park. Earlier in USL Championship history soccer was sold as an adjunct to professional baseball, and when MountainStar Sports Group committed to pro soccer, it did so with the assumption that the ballpark would be a fine venue until a new stadium was built. Then along came COVID and the long economic recovery, leading to a revived interest in a new soccer-specific stadium, When it happens, as MountainStar president Alan Ledford says, it will be planned not only as a sports venue but also as a community asset making a positive impact. From El Paso Inc.:
Although it is too early to identify a timeline, it’s important to have a stadium for the Locos – not just for the team but also for El Paso’s economy, he said.
“To continue to attract those new businesses, we need to continue to provide these types of quality-of-life assets like Southwest University Park and a possible soccer-specific stadium,” he said. “To move the community forward, it is imperative that these types of assets and these types of venues become part of the region.
“We’re excited to make that happen and to work towards that ultimate goal. Doing nothing and standing still is not an option.”
Other USL Championship teams playing out of ballparks and not soccer-specific venues include FC Tulsa and Memphis 901. Others, like Birmingham Legion FC, play out of municipal football stadiums.
Renderings of proposed New Mexico United stadium from previous attempt at a new downtown facility.
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