ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Even beautiful weather and local ties to the teams participating in this year’s New Mexico Bowl were not enough to boost attendance.
In fact, the bowl game saw its lowest attendance record ever in its 14-year history at Dreamstyle Stadium.
For Alan Edmonson, the New Mexico Bowl is a family tradition. “The memories you make, you can’t replace,” Edmonson said. “You can’t put a dollar value on them.”
He and his family travel from Carlsbad every year for the game. “This is the 14th New Mexico Bowl,” Edmonson said. “This is the 14th time I have been here, so it is a Christmas kickoff party for me and my family.”
He has seen a steady decline in attendance. Saturday’s game marked the lowest turnout ever at just under 19,000, around 6,000 fewer than last year.
“It is totally disappointing because you can’t make anything grow or get better if people don’t show up or buy into it, and that’s kind of why we have done it,” Edmonson said.
While it was hard not to miss the empty rows in the stands, organizers stressed the importance of the expected two million people who watched the game on ESPN.
“They will see the beautiful Sandia mountains, Native American culture, Hispanic culture, green chile and red chile,” director of media relations James Hallinan said. “They will see our great, amazing diversity on a beautiful day, so this showcases New Mexico to the entire world.”
The bowl had another setback earlier this year. In October, it cut ties with its newly-announced title sponsor, DreamHouse Productions, after reports surfaced that questioned the company’s background.
“Regardless of who is playing and who is sponsoring or not, it is important to keep it here and have a place for people to enjoy college football,” fan Lacy Rivera said. “It becomes a really important part of their holiday tradition.”
While organizers try to draw in more fans, Edmonson hopes local businesses will consider sponsoring to help keep the bowl alive. “I am looking forward to New Mexico Bowl 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 and 20,” Edmonson said.
The highest game attendance was the inaugural year back in 2006 with more than 34,000 people. The previous attendance low was back in 2012 with more than 24,000.
The New Mexico Bowl released the following statement related to the attendance drop:
Some years are good and some years are great, and this year local hotels filled up from Isleta Pueblo to north Albuquerque, and Aztec and Chippewas fans packed our restaurants and retail stores giving a huge boost to our local economy in what has historically been the lowest tourism week of the year.Jeff Siembieda, New Mexico Bowl executive director
Visit Albuquerque told News 13 in October that an estimated 6,000 out-of-town visitors attend the New Mexico Bowl each year, which correlates to $3.5 million in estimated direct spending.