A five-person group of soccer players recently bought the adult and youth leagues that play at the International Indoor Soccer Arena, which also will be soon sold to the same group.
The 18,000-square-foot soccer arena that sits on a 1.4-acre site in Albuquerque’s north I-25 corridor south of Paseo del Norte and east of Edith, is a non-stop hub of soccer activity.
It is the first move in what the group plans as a series of business endeavors, including opening another, larger soccer arena space in Rio Rancho, said Nicolo Muñiz, one of the partners.
The original project cost $1.7 million when built in 2012. The group declined to disclose the purchase price from prior owner Gabe Nosseir.
“Everybody believed it was more than a fair deal,” Muñiz said. “Gabe got what he wanted. It was win-win. He got what he was asking for and we thought it was fair. We didn’t bother trying to haggle or anything. It made sense for both sides so let’s do it.”
Nosseir used to be a youth soccer coach who coached Muñiz, and the two later became friends and business associates in real estate. He asked Muñiz if he was interested in taking over the arena toward the end of 2020.
Muñiz then set out putting an ownership group together, rounding up four additional partners, including Darcy Odom. Three are silent partners with Odom and Muñiz, who both also work at Sandia Labs, running the operation. They actually met as young adults when both were working at the arena.
“(Odom) was one of the first people I called,” Muñiz said. “We never worked together (on a business venture), but we’re very like-minded. We both agree that ball is life for the most part. We’re also like-minded in that we want to do entrepreneurial things and this was the first opportunity that presented itself and we thought it would be a fantastic fit.”
A big hurdle was overcoming virus-related roadblocks that kept the operation shuttered for 14 months.
The arena officially opened for league play May 24, but not without a little trepidation.
“The leagues were not allowed to run,” Odom said. “So trying to convince everyone that when it opened again that it was going to be the great place it was, and it’s going to be improved, was definitely something that we had to work at. But most people love this place.”
Lenders in particular wanted to see some proof the operation was solid, but the leagues returned at capacity with a waiting list.
“Getting actual loans to scale up and use leverage, it was a lot harder just because it wasn’t in operation for a year,” Muñiz said.”Any lender is going to want to see proof. And proof before COVID, they didn’t really credit anymore. ‘Well that was pre-COVID,’ they’d say. But we’re in a better place now that we’ve been in operation. For the property, we’re still working on it but it is in motion.”
Muñiz, along with a separate partner, is planning to rent space in the arena to put in a nano-brewery, Vision City Brewery, with a small restaurant. And there are plans in the works to bring in food trucks on weekends to make it more of a hang-out spot for the players post-game.
“We want to be able to offer those options that will allow people to be able to do more than just play their game and leave,” Odom said. “After you play your game, you can just hang out with your friends. I think I found the older you get, the more business you get with life, the harder it is to make times for those who are really important to you. This is your scheduled time, you can come here, have your game with your friends, then hang out and have dinner after, hang out and just talk. It’s the way to nourish that piece.”