Proposed field for Greyhounds needs scrutiny

Eastern New Mexico University is considering whether to build a new football stadium. This one would be on its Portales campus, would include soccer and track facilities, and could double as home field for Portales High School athletes.

The downside, of course, as with all new stadiums, is the projected cost: $8 million.

Compounding the matter is there really is nothing wrong with the university's stadium at Blackwater Draw, outside of its location a few minutes north of town. It raises one question in these tight economic times:

Is this luxury necessary?

ENMU President Steven Gamble said the student senate has already passed a resolution supporting the new stadium. The student body, which will be asked to cover half the costs with an increase in student fees, is expected to vote on it in the fall.

If the students approve, opposing the project is difficult, especially if private donations cover a big chunk of what's left, as university officials hope.

But here are a few other points to ponder:

  • The school's 5,000-plus students are already paying a hefty price for their education — $181.25 a credit hour for in-state tuition and fees, according to the ENMU website.

Since 1990, officials have said, tuition and fees are up 237 percent for in-state residents, 127 percent for out-of-state residents.

A new stadium would add $40 a semester for full-time students — for the next 25 years.

  • This is a government project. Estimated costs for government projects tend to balloon when work begins. Can the costs be locked in?
  • Greyhound Stadium, built in 1965 on U.S. 70, about halfway between Portales and Clovis, is not a bad place to play football.

"We're going to have to get out of Blackwater Draw before long," Gamble told a reporter last week. But then he began talking about making improvements at the current stadium. For $1 million, he said, the old field could be "serviceable for another decade or two."

We like the idea of a multi-use facility on the ENMU campus, especially if it's available for the entire community and doubles as home field for the high school Rams.

But the notion that a campus stadium might increase attendance or somehow boost school spirit, as promoters argue, seems unlikely.

Not $8 million worth of school spirit anyway.

A healthy dose of skepticism and good questions are in order as university officials continue this important discussion.

Unsigned editorials are the opinion of the Clovis Media Inc. editorial board, which includes Publisher Ray Sullivan and Editor David Stevens.

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