State spending less money on New Mexico Bowl

Posted at: 12/19/2013 11:19 PM
By: Caleb James, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Every year since 2006, fans have descended on Albuquerque for one special day of college football.

The Gildan New Mexico Bowl provides a huge opportunity for the state to advertise itself.

But KOB Eyewitness News 4 found out the state is putting less money into the game each year.

The state pays for the New Mexico part of the bowl's title with your tax dollars. But over the years, the state has spent less and less to keep that name in the title.

KOB started to wonder - does the state care about keeping the "New Mexico" in the name?

Thousands of fans from Washington State and Colorado State will fly in and drive to Saturday's game. So many fans, in fact, Washington state asked for more tickets. "This is the first time in the now eight years we've been doing this that one of these schools has asked for more tickets on top of their allotment," said bowl executive director Jeff Siembieda.

In only two days, locks on University Stadium gates will give way to a sea of the football faithful, all in the name of New Mexico, and our big bowl game.

"Right now we have the contract so it is in the name," said New Mexico Secretary of Tourism Monique Jacobson. Jacobson keeps New Mexico in the name of bowl's title each year with taxpayer money. "The original intention was to support it at such a high level so that they could really get the bowl game established," said Jacobson.

From 2006, when the bowl began, the state spent $300,000 or more a year to sponsor it -- that included commercials selling the state to tourists around the country. In 2010 and 2011, Gildan became the bowl's title sponsor. The state spent only $150,000 on the game those two years. This year and last? New Mexico only spent $50,000 in 2012 and 2013. That keeps New Mexico in the name without other perks. "We feel like some of the other places that we're spending dollars are delivering a strong return on investment as well, and we feel like we have the right balanced portfolio at this time," said Jacobson. "We're constantly looking for how great that value is, and whether we can justify it from a return on investment standpoint."

But could there be a day when even $50,000 is too much to spend on a name? "ESPN has a commitment to keep the bowl game in New Mexico based on discussions that we've had an decisions that they've made," said Jacobson. "My hope is that the bowl game does stay here, whether New Mexico is in the name or not."

Bowl executive director Siembieda says the bowl wants to keep New Mexico in the game's title.