Since the inception of the New Mexico United, the clock started running on the construction of a soccer-specific stadium. Under the league guidelines, clubs are expected to have a stadium. As clubs come into the league, they don’t always have a park of their own and often have to share space with other teams.
“The league has told other teams no to using baseball stadiums,” said United President and Owner Peter Trevisani recently in an exclusive interview with ESPN Radio 101.7 FM The TEAM. “As a rule, the league doesn’t want teams in baseball stadiums. We were able to get through that hurdle by saying we needed to get started and my big thing to them was we don’t know what kind of stadium to build (how big) until we get data. They’ve been patient with us and we want to do something to make the league and every New Mexican proud.”
In the case of United, they’ve been sharing Isotopes Park since 2019. It hasn’t always been the easiest of relationships and the fans have felt the brunt of it. From changing policies to issues getting into the stadium, United has always been at the forefront of working with the Isotopes to try to make things as smooth as possible. Other clubs have had similar situations and have had to constantly work with the USL in order to make sure that they are in compliance with league policy.
United and other clubs were given extensions on the deadline to construct a stadium due to COVID affecting everything worldwide starting in 2020. Even with the extension, United plunged forward with their plans and looked for opportunities to build themselves a new home.
In 2021 the club took a big step forward and identified potential sites in and around the metro area. While the idea was to always keep the club downtown, the pushback from the general public was felt more fiercely after the bond vote failed by nearly a 2:1 margin. The public’s voice was heard and despite the intentions of the club and the city to help activate the areas and hold other events at the stadium, it didn’t pass muster.
“We get so laser-focused on combating some of the problems around the city like crime or homelessness and putting everything into those. One of the ways you combat these negative attributes is by providing positivity and avenues of hope, and assets we care about collectively,” continued Trevisani. “United is one of those things that gives us pride, keeps people here, keeps our young people here.”
When it comes to funding, Trevisani hasn’t shied away from the club’s contributions to the process.
“We’re going to lead it privately, we’ve talked about that. We need to have transparency, the city needs to be transparent in its role, and we will be in ours. Is it going to be ten or twelve thousand seats? We don’t know, we’ll see where the budget comes out.”
From day one, the club has had a presence in the community with its outreach through the Somos Unidos Foundation. A brainchild of former manager Troy Lesesne, the foundation continues to try and enhance its community. Part of that is the creation of a multi-use facility. The club has long talked about allowing other events, not just United soccer, at the stadium and building up the area immediately around the stadium.
“I’ve always thought it should be open every day so that people can enjoy them. Even at Balloon Fiesta Park, there’s not a lot of foot traffic out there during the middle of the week, but there’s always something going on there every weekend. We need this to be a facility that can encourage even more activations.” Trevisani didn’t stop there. “We want to host all the high school soccer championship games. I want to host other sports as well, lacrosse or high school football. It gives kids a chance to see what it’s like to play in a professional stadium and take that with them the rest of their lives.”
It wasn’t all that long ago that Trevisani made a splash when he leaked what appears to be the final location of the new stadium. At the Black and Yellow bash, Trevisani told those in attendance that they were looking at a place that rhymed with “Lagoon Siesta”. In the months since, he’s been seen sporting a “Lagoon Siesta Park” t-shirt, at times to the dismay of other members of the front office staff. But, they know that Pete is going to Pete when he gets in front of a microphone.
Balloon Fiesta Park has more than enough space with over 400 acres and thirteen thousand parking spots available. A stadium would take up roughly six acres of space. It has to potential to be so much more than just a stadium and be a focal point for the community. From art exhibits to concerts to high school athletics and other avenues for revenue generation, there’s a lot to believe in with this field of dreams. There’s a chance that ground could be broken as soon as this winter and once it does, there will be a new home for United soccer.
Author’s note: In full transparency, I helped campaign for the stadium ahead of the bond vote. I fully support the building of a stadium and think it would not only help keep professional soccer in New Mexico but also be a great focal point for the city and the state.