The official groundbreaking ceremony for the University of New Mexico's new basketball complex was held today at 1 p.m., south of The Pit. The $4.2 million project features a practice facility and new offices for the Lobo men's and women's basketball coaches and staff. Slated for completion in November, the complex was funded by New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and members of the state legislature during the 2004 and 2005 legislative sessions.
The new facility was designed by the Albuquerque architectural firm of Molzen-Corbin & Associates. The general contractor is The Jaynes Corporation of Albuquerque.
Featured speakers today included Governor Richardson, Jamie Koch, President of the UNM Board of Regents, UNM President Louis Caldera, UNM athletics director Rudy Davalos, UNM head men's basketball coach Ritchie McKay and UNM head women's basketball coach Don Flanagan. All of the speakers, plus three other members of the UNM Board of Regents, participated in the groundbreaking, complete with hard hats and shovels.
"We want to express a sincere debt of gratitude to Governor Richardson and those in the state legislature who supported the governor in funding this project," said Davalos. "The facility will be a tremendous asset to our men's and women's programs for a variety of reasons."
"It's awesome, absolutely awesome," said men's head coach Ritchie McKay. "For Governor Richardson and the state legislature to see fit to fund this facility for the benefit of Lobo basketball and the entire UNM Athletics Department is greatly appreciated. This will be a great addition for both the men's and women's basketball programs at New Mexico."
The existing structure south of The Pit will remain virtually intact. It was built prior to the 1983 NCAA Men's Final Four hosted by UNM when it served as the media workroom. It has been used in the same capacity for numerous conference and NCAA championship events the past 22 years. The facility has also been utilized as a practice venue for several Lobo teams, but never basketball, which has practiced in The Pit.
"The new facility will really help with our practice efficiency," said women's head coach Don Flanagan. "We would like to thank Governor Richardson and members of the state legislature for making it all possible. It will showcase the basketball tradition at the University of New Mexico and put our offices at The Pit for the first time."
Comments from UNM President Louis Caldera
"We started our day with a groundbreaking for Domenici Hall, which is a mental neuroscience imaging center so I will start off by saying it is a great day to be a Lobo."
"Lobo sports really do unite this great state. We are the fifth largest state in land mass and for a rural state, that is a very spread out population. But I know, with the exception of one little town in the south, there is a great love for the Lobos."
"We are grateful to the Governor for his support to make this facility a reality. As I was looking at it, the one thing I thought that we may have come up a little short on is the display cases. I think we will need a whole lot more for all those trophies that are going to be coming back to UNM."
Comments from Gov. Bill Richardson:
"I am a strong supporter of strong athletic programs, combined with excellence in our universities. I am always going to be there for Lobo athletics. The Lobos are a source of pride for New Mexico. They're not just athletic teams. They bring the state together and a governor should recognize that and leaders should recognize that. I'm delighted that we're going to have this facility sooner than later. I believe it's important that we have good, strong facilities. You have to upgrade your facilities. They must be upgraded for training."
Comments from Jamie Koch, President, UNM Board of Regents:
"If we didn't have Governor Richardson's support to be able to build this facility, we wouldn't be able to continue to do what we have done in the Mountain West Conference. We wouldn't be able to compete. Athletics to the University of New Mexico, I think, is one of the most important things we have."
Quick Facts on the UNM Basketball Complex
26,100 square feet
six baskets with one full-size court (94 feet running east-west) or two courts measuring 85 feet, runnning north-south
offices for men's and women's basketball coaches and staff
coaches' locker room
computer lab for student-athletes
hospitality room with a caterer's kitchen
a main lobby featuring display cabinets and kiosks showcasing the tradition and history of Lobo basketball
the practice court will also be used as a media workroom for upcoming NCAA Basketball Championship events, including the 2006 Women's Albuquerque Regional