Rocky Long and the Albuquerque Arena

Lobo football fans awoke this morning to find that their head football coach of the past 11 seasons, Rocky Long, had resigned. While the losing 2008 season was definitely tough on the coach, he made a point of stating that New Mexico football will never flourish until the fans decide to turn out in greater numbers to support the program. What does this have to do with public policy in New Mexico?
Well, Albuquerque’s political establishment is considering the construction of a brand new taxpayer-financed arena in downtown Albuquerque. Possible anchor tenants include an arena football team and a WNBA franchise. While studies are done with an eye towards justifying the expenditure, despite difficult economic times, the real question is “If you build it, will they come?” After all, Lobo Football is a Division I, “major league” product. If fans won’t support them, will they support women’s professional basketball?
The record is mixed. Fans turn out for the Isotopes and Lobo basketball, but not for the Thunderbirds minor league basketball, not for Lobo Football (at least not enough to make the team as successful as its <a href="<a href=""/”>Mountain West peers, and not for the Scorpions hockey team.
It is hard to say what makes the teams that succeed do so and why other teams lack fan support, but I don’t trust our City Council and Mayor to spend a bunch of our money to figure it out, do you?