PORTALES - Eastern New Mexico University is trying to make a multi-million dollar investment to lure Texans to town.
ENMU students voted to front $4 million in tuition fees to fund half the cost of a brand new stadium, and the university has $1 million in reserves dedicated to it. Now the university is looking to the community to pay the rest of the price tag.
"In Texas football is king, especially high school football and we have to be able to recruit in Texas," ENMU Athletic Director Jeff Guiser said. "And we don't have the population density in New Mexico to survive just off New Mexico high schools."
The first impression for potential high school recruits, is this dilapidated old stadium 11 miles outside of Portales. Geiser says it's hurting the athletic program and in turn, the school. "They say that athletics is the front step of a university because we do get that publicity," Geiser said.
Students voted to pay $40 a semester to pay for half of the $8 million upgrade to be built right across the street from the university. Part time students will only pay $3.50 per credit hour. The current greyhound stadium hasn't seen any significant renovations since it was built in 1968, and folks driving in from Clovis to see a game, don't even make it into Portales.
"There's a likelihood they would never even enter Portales," president of the ENMU Foundation Steve Doeer said. "They drive down to the stadium, turn around and leave, this way they can shop, get gas, spend the night, eat, shop."
Doerr is heading up the campaign to get alumni, business owners, community organizations and the Portales School District to front $3 million to invest in the community. "The Portales football team could play their games here Friday nights. If they have playoffs they could host playoff games here," Doerr said.
The new stadium would include NCAA upgrades as well, making Portales a possible host for track and soccer events. Which Doerr says would bring new business and growth to a now sleepy part of town. "The school and the community have not put limits on what this stadium can be used for," he said.
The city, county and school district have signed resolutions in support of the project. Now it's just a matter of money. If everything goes as planned and all the money is raised, the ENMU Greyhounds and the Portales Rams could be playing there as soon as Fall of 2015.