ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - The state has been a major financial supporter of the New Mexico Bowl since its inaugural game seven years ago, but it has slashed its sponsorship by $100,000 this year.
"The original intention of the state and the original support of the New Mexico Bowl was really to help get it off the ground, get an established base for the hopes of one day getting a big corporate sponsor to come in," said Tourism Secretary Monique Jacobson.
The bowl signed a three-year deal with clothing manufacturer Gildan last year and changed its name to the Gildan New Mexico Bowl.
In the last six years, the state of New Mexico has contributed more than $1.8 million to the bowl. At its peak, the state put up $400,000 in 2009. That was down to $150,000 last year. This year, the state is sponsoring the bowl at $50,000.
"We're just very focused on making every dollar that's spent for this state is spent in the most impactful way," said Jacobson.
Despite the cut in state funding, organizers said the bowl is doing just fine.
"Any time you expect money to come in and it doesn't, you have to make changes," said executive director Jeff Siembieda. "We were able to alter our course and find other partners who were able to come on board and retain some of our inventory so we were able to make that up in other places."
Siembieda said the bowl is a big boost to the local economy and hopes to continue its partnership with the state.
"When you've got 10,000 people driving down from Wyoming and stopping in Raton and Las Vegas and Santa Fe along the way and going up to Taos to ski for the week or coming up from El Paso and stopping in Las Cruces and Socorro, I think the benefits are pretty tangible," said Siembieda.
About 26,000 people attended the bowl game between the Wyoming Cowboys and Temple Owls last year.
Jacobson said the state has not determined what the sponsorship funding level will be next year or whether the levels will be less than $50,000. But Jacobson said the state recognizes to benefits of the New Mexico Bowl game.
"In terms of the exposure by having "New Mexico Bowl" in the title and all the exposure of people talking about 'New Mexico Bowl, New Mexico Bowl, New Mexico Bowl,'" said Jacobson.
News 13 asked if it would still be called the "New Mexico Bowl" if the state cuts its sponsorship altogether, but organizers would not speculate.
The Gildan New Mexico Bowl is owned by ESPN. Organizers would not tell us what kind of profit the game turns.
The Gildan New Mexico Bowl will be played at University Stadium on Dec. 15.
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