Construction of a special grass field fit for professional athletes and championship-level youth competition is now underway in Southeast Albuquerque.
City and county government leaders on Tuesday joined local sports advocates and New Mexico United owner Peter Trevisani to break ground on a new $600,000 field at Mesa del Sol, a key component of a larger plan to transform the site into a roughly 200-acre multisport venue with 32 fields.
“Almost any outdoor sports activity you think of, you’ll be able to do up here at Mesa del Sol,” Bernalillo County Commissioner Steven Michael Quezada said, adding that the facility’s “quality” will attract athletes from out of state.
“Our kids won’t have to be the ones always going out on the road games,” Quezada said. “They’ll be coming to us.”
The site, located next to the Isleta Amphitheater concert pavilion, already has six fields. The new championship field will become the seventh when it comes online this summer. It will feature a bluegrass turf that can withstand frequent mowing needed to keep it short for the New Mexico United professional soccer team – which will rent it for practice – and competitive events.
Funding comes from $2 million Bernalillo County has committed to the Mesa del Sol complex. The Albuquerque City Council also recently approved $3.5 million for the site, which will help with associated facilities, such as a clubhouse.
The county is also lobbying state lawmakers for an additional $4.8 million to create 10 more grass fields and related infrastructure. If approved, those fields could be done some time in 2021, according to John Barney, a county parks and recreation planning manager.
Jim Tilley of the Bernalillo Youth Sports Commission said the groundbreaking was a monumental occasion that even Tuesday’s snowy conditions could not dampen.
“For me, it’s 80 degrees and the sun is shining,” he said, adding that the venue could eventually attract tournament teams from across the southwestern U.S.
“It’s a really good place to bring together Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas to compete in a central location, and we’ve not been able to do that in the past,” Tilley said.
Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said the city is currently investing elsewhere to make tournament-worthy venues for softball and baseball, but the Mesa del Sol complex has potential for soccer and many other sports that need “large grass fields that are relatively rectangular shaped.”