Saturday, February 18, 2006

UNM Athletics: More Pork than Just Pigskins

At this point I'm wondering if mere cloudiness is as close to precipitation we're gonna get this year in ABQ, and that reminds me to point out what I think is the single stupidest approved (pending Gov. line item veto) capital outlay project I've seen so far:

UNM Athletics is getting $6.1 million to build a new indoor football practice field

"Indoor"? In New Mexico? For Spring Football and Football Season? Are ya kidding me? Never mind the reality that we ended up underfunding things like meth rehab clinics and West Side school construction. Or that state funding of university athletics should be somewhere below rodeo arenas and equestrian centers on the list of funding priorities (oh that got funded, too).

I just can't get past the need for an "indoor" facility. I'm thinking hard here, in part because I've seen absolutely no public/media discussion of this particular pork project. Evidently dissing or even having some debate on the Lobos is socially unacceptable. Well call me a leper because even though I watch the occasional Lobos football game I can't for the life of me think of why we'd need an indoor football practice field in our perfect weather, low-humidity environment. Isn't the middle Rio Grande Valley basically just one huge indoor football practice facility?

Is it because it's too hot in Summer? Well, for far less than $6.1 million we could cut practices off early at 11 a.m. in the summer and just give the players $50 spending money a day to go make trouble around town. $100 if you're a starter. Or we could spend a couple of million on a state-of-the-art football film room so the players could sit on $2500 Italian chairs and sip Tuscan mineral water all afternoon while watching films of Air Force kicking their ass last year.

Of course those are great money-saving ideas, but after thinking about it a while I think I might have the real reason UNM is getting a $6.1 million indoor football practice field. This wouldn't have anything to do with that "bowl game" ($$) Big Bill's staff and UNM folks had a secret meeting about a week or so ago, would it? ($$) We wouldn't be spending $6.1 million of money certainly spent better elsewhere on the off chance that 'Burque could host the "Payday Loans Chile Bowl", would we?

Of course we don't know for two reasons: 1. Big Bill's staffers meeting with UNM officials was secret; 2. the local press (as far as I can tell) focused completely on how terrible it was for Big Bill to have a secret meeting and not much time finding out what the secrets were exactly. If I missed something here, please let me know and I'll apologize with great profusion.

Well, whatever the reason we evidently got ourselves a new indoor football practice field. Perhaps overcrowded APS schools could rent out the field for classrooms when the team (or a bowl team) isn't using it. Maybe one end zone on the field could be turned into a small temporary out-patient meth rehab clinic when the ball is on the other side of the field.

Regardless, as for now the outlay for the field is the stupidest single expense I've found so far, knowing of course that the truly bizarre approved capital outlay won't be known until the budgetary dust settles some time from now. Meanwhile, as for UNM Athletics the $6.1 million for the field wasn't even half of what they got. They also $8 million to renovate and expand "The Pit". I don't have the energy to tackle that one right now. I think I'll just go to the corner and shake my head uncontrollably for a while.

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