ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Expo New Mexico, the home of Tingley Coliseum, is looking into the possibility of a bigger, better arena.
Weeks ago, Elton John sold out the 60-year-old roughly 11,000 capacity arena. Officials at the State Fair grounds say the concert solidified what they’ve been seriously considering for the last year or so.
“Albuquerque deserves this,” said Expo New Mexico General Manager Dan Mourning. “New Mexico deserves this.”
Mourning says Elton John may have worked out, but there’s a reason Garth Brooks performed five shows at the Pan American Center in Las Cruces this past weekend instead of coming to Albuquerque.
According to Mourning, Tingley Coliseum wasn’t big enough for Brooks’ staging equipment.
“We’re looking to get those shows, and have them come here instead of bypassing us,” Mourning said.
It’s a prime example of why Mourning and the State Fair Commission are asking the question, “What could we do with a new, state of the art, bigger facility?”
Populous, an international design firm, is currently conducting a study to see what would work in terms of design and capacity.
If it all comes to fruition, KRQE News 13 asked Mourning about possible competition with the Isleta Amphitheater.
“Isleta is a great facility for outdoor type concerts, but you’re subject to the weather,” he said.
What about the Santa Ana Star Center?
“Smaller facility, and it is also out in Rio Rancho. It’s farther removed from Albuquerque. We need something centrally located in Albuquerque,” Mourning said.
The City of Albuquerque has attempted this in the past. Plans announced in 2015 to convert part of the downtown Convention Center into a 10,000 seat arena fell through in mid-2016.
“It became apparent that we weren’t going to be able to get the amount of seats or the ceiling heights that were required,” Mayor Richard J. Berry said in 2016.
KRQE News 13 reached out to the Mayor’s Office for comment on Expo New Mexico’s idea for a new arena, and received this statement:
The idea of putting an arena at Expo New Mexico is worth exploring. We have been talking about the idea for several years and I am happy the state is studying the opportunity. – Mayor Berry
In terms of funding the new arena, Mourning said it’s too early for a dollar figure.
He also made it clear the funds would come mostly, if not all, from public-private partnerships. Although Expo New Mexico and the State Fair are under the state, money would not come from general funds, especially during a time when the state is cash-strapped due to the ongoing “budget crisis.”