By Christina Calloway
PNT senior writer
Portales schools Board of Education members have pledged their support for a new $8 million Eastern New Mexico University football stadium in Portales, but money toward building it has yet to be decided.
As ENMU Foundation President Steve Doerr makes his rounds in the community to rally support for the stadium, which he presented as a benefit to Portales schools for athletic use, the board of education is the second most important group’s opinion to sway next to ENMU students because Doerr has plans to ask the board to fund $2 million of the stadium’s cost.
But Doerr said he won’t come knocking on the board’s door until after ENMU students vote in the beginning of October and a successful vote is needed by ENMU students because the plan requires them to foot half the bill through the increase of student fees at a cost of $40 per semester, per student.
“The first step is to get students to vote in favor for it, that’s $4 million,” Doerr said. “The dialogue has been positive with students.”
The board passed a resolution only to express its support for the stadium after board members made it clear that their vote was just that.
“We’re just saying we believe that’s a good thing for the city and the school,” said board Secretary Mary Lou Rowley.
Based on the proposed payment structure with ENMU students paying half of the $8 million cost and ENMU paying $1 million, the remainder of the money to be raised falls on the ENMU Foundation. Of that $3 million, the foundation will ask the school board to pledge $2 million on a bond if the student vote is successful.
“If the students pass it, which we believe they will pass it, that’s when we launch the capital campaign,” said ENMU Athletics Director Jeff Geiser.
Several board members and Portales schools faculty members said the “elephant in the room” needed to be addressed because they were previously told the board would only be asked to pledge $1 million on a bond.
“It changed from $1 million to $2 million from the last time you were here,” said Portales schools Director of Technology Mike Rackler.
Other officials raised the same concern, but Doerr said the number that was reported before was not an official one.
Geiser added that it is possible that the amount Portales schools pays to utilize the stadium could rise if they don’t financially support the stadium because the construction costs will need to be covered.
“I think we need further discussion, $2 million is a lot of money,” said board member Inez Rodriguez.
Both board members and Doerr predict that further negotiations to get the board’s financial support will take place.