State lawmakers discuss possible funds for United soccer stadium

Albuquerque News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The New Mexico United soccer team just wrapped up their first season, but already, team and Albuquerque city officials are hard at work lobbying for a new stadium and a possible plan on how to pay for it.

Team owner Peter Trevisani and Albuquerque’s Chief Operating Officer Lawrence Rael met with state lawmakers on the Economic and Rural Development Committee Thursday, discussing the possibilities of a future soccer stadium.

In a sense, the meeting was a first look at if lawmakers are interested in the idea of throwing millions of dollars at the potential Albuquerque project.

“When we come together, we believe in each other, that is attractive, it’s attractive to us and its attractive to all of those around us,” said Trevisani, speaking generally about building on the success of the United to lawmakers during Thursday’s meeting.

New Mexicans flocked to watch United in their inaugural season. The team lead the United Soccer League (USL) in attendance in 2019.

While the United are expected to play in the city-owned Isotopes Park for the next two seasons, the team’s league requires they’ll eventually play in a soccer-specific stadium. Trevisani says the team is considering a stadium that would cost about $5,000 per seat.

“If you’re at 15,000 people that’s $75-million, and then you can obviously you can adjust it from there,” said Trevisani.

The team hasn’t formalized its stadium project. They also haven’t formally requested any funds to help pay for a future stadium, however, Thursday afternoon’s meeting made it clear the team and the City of Albuquerque are interested in a possible public-private partnership for a new facility.

“If we don’t build community, we’re not going to build this state,” said Lawrence Rael, chief operating officer for the City of Albuquerque under Mayor Tim Keller’s administration.

Highlighting the city’s investment in Isotopes Park, Rael said, “nobody has ever stopped me in the time we built that baseball stadium, to tell me, ‘gosh that was a bad investment.'”

The city says it’s “early” on in the process, and needs to evaluate potential sites, along with having “community conversations.” Thursday’s meeting was somewhat of an affirmation from lawmakers that they’re interested in the project.

“If New Mexico truly commits in this moment, in history to believe in ourselves, to believe that the story we have is worth sharing with the world, I think that’s the real question here. Do we believe in ourselves enough to export New Mexico to the rest of the world?” said Candelaria of a potential stadium.

Trevisani’s hoping it’ll be much more than just another sports facility. He says he’d love to see it reflect New Mexico’s culture and love for the arts, saying he’d love to get Meow Wolf involved in the project.

New Mexico United has two more years left on their lease at Isotopes Park. They say it’s unlikely that they will be in their stadium by then, but they hope they will have at least gotten started on it.

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