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Sports complex still in planning phase

UNM’s proposed entertainment complex project for South Campus — which officials previously estimated might begin construction this semester — is still in its feasibility phase, according to University Real Estate Director Thomas Neale.

The entertainment complex was proposed in 2014 as a space for restaurants and live music to bring Lobo fans together as part of a broader effort by UNM to develop the area around University Stadium and WisePies Arena.

The plans call for a 50,000 to 60,000 square foot building with 10 different restaurants and a live music venue, Neale said.

54 Development is still attached to the project, and the company is currently finishing a feasibility and due diligence process, which will determine if they move forward with the project, Neale said, adding that the decision should be made within the next couple of weeks.

Last fall the project was expected to begin in early 2017 and Neale said he’s still hopeful the project will still begin construction this year. But a date can’t be chosen until they determine whether it’s a realistic endeavor.

“The state of the economy is also not helping at this moment,” Neale said. “I think ultimately we’ll be successful in delivering a project, it’s just going to take a little more persistence and perseverance on the part of the development team and University.”

He said the University leadership is still committed to the project, and he believes the second phase of ART will help the project.

“When that’s linked with the ART (project) I think it really enhances the ability to move people in and out of the district to major events,” Neale said. “And folks who at least initially live along those transportation quarters will have easy access to get to our South Campus for our entertainment events.”

He said they’ve talked with national operators about running the complex and they are looking for one operator to manage all of the venues.

As per the original plan, the team is still interested in pulling in local business. Neale expects that a single operator will franchise the use of local restaurant concepts.

He said the complex is expected to boost the number of office users in the science and technology park, and draw in the hundreds of students living at Lobo Village, adding that the complex may also provide jobs for those students.

“I think it’ll bring excitement to that part of town when there’s not a major event that’s going on,” Neale said. “The goal ultimately is to establish this vibrant district that reaches beyond our immediate community and our students down there but is a regional draw.”

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That is, of course, if it gets built.

“I think everyone would like to see something coming out of the ground sooner,” Neale said, “but I think we just need to be persistent and recognize the difficulty in executing development down there, given the challenging times we’re in,” Neale said.

Cathy Cook is a news reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at or on Twitter 

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