NMJC adds $1 million for track upgrades
KELLY FARRELL NEWS-SUN
July 27, 2018
New Mexico Junior College board members voted unanimously last week to approve an additional $1 million in funding for the planned track and field upgrades at Ross Black Field of Champions. NMJC is hosting the 2019 NJCAA outdoor track and field national championships in May and anticipates a large amount of athletes and others in attendance.
New Mexico Junior College is putting an additional $1 million into track and field upgrades before its 2019 hosting duties for the NJCAA DI Men's and Women's Outdoor Track & Field National Championships.
At its last board meeting, NMJC board members voted unanimously to increase the project's funding by $1 million for a total of at least $1.6 million. Planned upgrades for the Ross Black Field of Champions include bleacher capacity, track lighting, the scoreboard, restrooms and concessions, an additional javelin throwing lane and a storage building for equipment. These improvements are planned to take place ahead of the track championship on May 16-18, 2019, which was awarded to NMJC in early April. After NMJC, the next two championships in 2020 and 2021 are set to be held in Kansas and west Texas.
NMJC vice president of finance Dan Hardin talked about the project and looking into different aspects of the upgrades, such as the lighting.
"We realized that the $600,000 was not going to cover all of the things that we would like to do," he said. "Especially, in this first year we've been awarded to host the national championship and, in order, to retain that national championship track meet every other year here at Hobbs and at the junior college."
Hardin asked the board to approve moving $1 million into the fund for the upgrades, which it did, and also for approval to present the project to the Higher Education Department (HED) in September. The junior college has to get HED's approval with bigger projects like this. He noted the lighting cost was a "quite a bit more" than his expectations after explaining it's almost like lighting two football fields.
The junior college is already making preparations for the upgrades.
"We are in the process of getting that started," Charley Carroll, NMJC director of physical plant, said Thursday. "We've gone out to bid on some the components in that upgrade, but we have to have it completed — everything has to be ready by April the 1st of 2019 because we're hosting the national junior college track meet. So, there's a lot to do."
The three-day event is also expected to have an economic impact on the community, according to Hardin, who noted 700 athletes and their coaches, trainers, family and fans will be in town for the track championship.
"Those teams typically come in on a Monday or Tuesday for a Thursday, Friday, Saturday track meet," he said. "So, they're going to be here for several days. The economic impact over that week's time is going to be tremendous for this area. And that's what we're looking at over year after every other year down the line. It's not an investment for one track meet, it's an investment for multiple years."
NMJC's athletic director, Deron Clark, reiterated Thursday that their objective is not just to host it next May, but to host more times in the future. He discussed the different upgrades and said it'll enhance what they have from the NJCAA level to the local level in being able to "meet the needs of what our actual opportunities are."
"It's going to be a complete community involvement," he later added. "We're excited about engaging with the folks of Lea County to really bring this thing off at the highest level possible and draw a lot of positive attention to our area."
Kelly Farrell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .