By Christina Calloway
PNT senior writer
Full-time Eastern New Mexico University students planning to vote in favor of a proposed $8 million football stadium say it’s about giving something to the community that will go beyond benefiting them. The election will be held online Wednesday to Friday.
“It would attract more of an on-campus audience, it’s going to help all of us,” said senior Kurt Munz, who plays with the school’s marching band. “For me it’s kind of sad in a way because I won’t be able to see the stadium because I’m graduating soon.”
Munz, a representative of the 3,000 ENMU students eligible to vote, said it’s been a pain to lug band equipment to the school’s outdated 45-year-old stadium at Blackwater Draw, about eight miles from town. He said the new location would also boost school morale and make it easier on the community and students to attend games and events.
Although his part-time counterparts are not allowed to vote as decided by the school’s student government, he feels the stadium will be worth the $40 a semester he’ll pay, and $3.33 per credit hour for part-time students, because they can see where their money is going. If the vote is successful, all students will share the burden for the next 30 years.
Junior Kris Ann Walters said as a student athlete, she will be voting in favor for the stadium.
“I run track and it will be beneficial to track athletes,” Walters said. “It’s a $40 payment (per semester) for a stadium that’s going to be there for years.”
The stadium has also garnered support from the community, with local governments and community groups passing resolutions to show their support for what they see as an economic development opportunity.
“The construction of a new football stadium will be a benefit to Portales by encouraging more visitors to the city and providing a catalyst for the development of the area around the university,” said Portales City Manager Doug Redmond.
But the students are not the only ones that need convincing to get on board.
A quarter of the remaining $4 million will be requested from Portales schools, which would also use the facility. ENMU has agreed to pay $1 million and the other $2 million will be raised by the ENMU Foundation.
ENMU Foundation President Steve Doerr is the chief spokesperson for the project. Here are the main advantages and disadvantages of the building of the stadium according to Doerr:
- Economic development: Doerr said consulting with economic development experts that the stadium is the kind of project that leads to municipal growth. He added that there is a possibility of a new hotel being built. He’s also argued that several visiting teams do not spend their money in Portales because if they are traveling west on U.S. 70 to get to the stadium, they won’t pass through Portales. The stadium would also provide the space for regional track meets and concert venues.
- Increased attendance at games: Doerr said the commute for community members and students has hindered attendance in the past. With the stadium within city limits, attendance is expected to be increased for both ENMU and Portales High School games.
- Efficiency: Doerr said the stadium will require less watering and electricity than the current stadium, which would most likely cut the cost Portales schools pays per game.
- The cost: The Portales Schools Board of Education expressed its support for the stadium but isn’t sure if it will support it financially through the bond. It’s already been said that if the students don’t approve it, the stadium won’t happen. Doerr said it’s the foundation’s job to raise as much money as it can for the stadium but it will be harder without the school board’s portion.
- The lights: Though they are not predicted to be much of bother, Doerr is concerned the lights of the stadium will garner complaints from residents. But he feels that can be an issue addressed during the building of the stadium.
- Parking: In the first few years, Doerr said people would still have to park on the grass until the school can raise additional funding for concrete.