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Krebs unveils wish list for new and upgraded UNM facilities

Lobo Lise Rugland is shown during sand volleyball practice at the StoneFace Courts in March. UNM seeks to construct its own sand volleyball courts at a yet-to-be-determined site. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

Lobo Lise Rugland is shown during sand volleyball practice at the StoneFace Courts in March. UNM seeks to construct its own sand volleyball courts at a yet-to-be-determined site. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

University of New Mexico athletic director Paul Krebs believes his school stands near the Mountain West summit in terms of sports facilities.

That doesn’t mean he’s comfortable standing pat.

Krebs said he frequently hears surprised and glowing comments from fans and visitors who see UNM’s athletic facilities for the first time. And with Lobo Baseball Field renovations underway and other significant projects in the planning stages, Krebs believes UNM can be in position to lure recruits away from its Mountain West rivals for years to come.

“Some schools may have a better ‘something,’ ” Krebs said, “but when you look at the totality of what we have, I think we stack up incredibly well with the rest of our league.”

Krebs also noted, however, that other Mountain West schools are upgrading facilities, keeping pressure on UNM to maintain a front-running position.

“As soon as you’re not trying to get better, you will get passed,” he said.

Funding continued improvements, of course, will be difficult as NCAA scholarship values and construction costs continue to increase. UNM will need a combination of revenue sources to fund its construction ambitions – from attendance increases, real estate projects in the South Campus area, state and private dollars.

Finances pending, here are athletic facilities projects UNM hopes to undertake in the next few years:

Human performance training center

What it is: A 10,000 square-foot structure to house physical and nutritional training areas for Olympic sports athletes. (Football and basketball players have separate facilities, while athletes from other sports currently are using a temporary structure.)

Where it’s going: Immediately west of UNM’s athletic offices

What it will cost: Estimated $3 million to $5 million

He said it: “This is our No. 1 priority right now in terms of a major facility upgrade. Most of our teams will use it. We’re looking into funding sources and, in an ideal world, could have something next summer depending on our ability to fund it.” – Krebs

Sand volleyball courts

What it is: On-campus courts and structure to serve as home for UNM’s sand volleyball program. Will include a minimum of three sand courts, accompanying shade structures, seating and a sound system. (The Lobos rented space at StoneFace Courts in 2015, their debut season.)

Where it’s going: This is the primary question yet to be answered. Possible sites include South Campus near Lobo baseball and softball fields, adjacent to UNM football indoor practice facility or main campus near Johnson Field.

What it will cost: Estimated $100,000 for initial construction depending on water availability

He said it: “I’ve received some donations, but it’s kind of in a holding pattern until we determine a site. We’re planning to have five or six home matches next season, but renting is still an option until we get something permanent in place.” – UNM volleyball coach Jeff Nelson

University Stadium upgrade

What it is: Still in the planning stages are upgrades to the concourse area and restrooms at UNM’s football home. Overhauls of suite and press box areas are also on the agenda.

Where it’s going: Primarily on the stadium’s south end and atop the westside grandstands

What it will cost: To be determined

He said it: “That’s the next big thing that’s out there from a facilities perspective. Of course, it’s dependent on funding, and it’s probably a project that would be phased in over time. I would hope in the next couple of years we would finalize a design and begin to make progress toward those renovations. … It’s a big one. Other than the scoreboard and playing surface, we haven’t really touched the heart of that facility in some time. The economics will be a challenge.” – Krebs

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