UNM wants to sell naming rights to The Pit

Posted at: 07/09/2013 10:40 PM
By: Maria Guerrero, KOB Eyewitness News 4

If you were around in 1983 you will remember one of the most historic NCAA Championship games ever.

The upset saw North Carolina State Coach Jim Valvano running around the court at the end.

The arena known as “The Pit” was instantly famous.

So why would UNM change the name of one of our state’s most iconic sites?

That’s because UNM’s Athletic Department says it needs revenue.

It is pretty common for college stadium and arenas to sell naming rights.

Parts of it are already named: after a former director of athletics and a family that gave UNM millions of dollars.

But at the front of the building, The Pit stands alone.

But now, its naming rights are for sale.

"I don't think that's a good idea,” said one woman.

UNM’s Athletic Department says they will preserve its legacy.

“We do not want to lose the name The Pit. We feel like it's iconic to the building,” said Tim Cass, Deputy Athletic Director.

The Athletic Department has been trying to sell the naming rights for about four years without any takers.

Whose name could you see next to “The Pit”?

What about “PNM Presents: The Pit,” or how about “Pita Pit: The Pit,” perhaps “Blake’s The Pit,” or even “The Maloof Family presents: The Pit?”

“It wouldn't be the same. The Pit has always been The Pit,” said Richard Lamb.

The Athletic Department says it needs to generate new revenue to pay down some of the $40 million spent on the arena’s renovation.

UNM says the naming rights will go for about $10-15 million.

If a family buys the rights, their name will stay forever.

If a corporation buys the rights, it will be temporary.

"I didn't like it when they changed from the Dukes to the Isotopes, so me personally I wouldn't feel comfortable with that," said one fan.

If no buyers come forward, we asked if that means higher ticket prices for fans.

"Whether it comes to ticket prices I really can't answer that today that's something we look at every year," said Cass.

The Athletic Department says it will continue to look for a buyer.

In the past four years UNM says it’s had three or four potential buyers, though wouldn’t name them.

Just across the street, University Stadium named its new field last year “Branch Field” for $1.5 million.

Those naming rights are good for 15 years.