After 11 months and $14.6 million spent, the new Eastern New Mexico University multi-purpose stadium will be completely operational by Aug. 15.
Officially called the Al Whitehead Field at Greyhound Stadium, named in honor of the biggest donor for the project, the stadium is set to house ENMU football, soccer and track and field, as well as Portales High School football.
On Thursday, Aug. 4, ENMU staff members — including Greg Waggoner, athletic director, Ted Fares, director of facilities and Wendel Sloan, director of media relations — inspected the final stages of the construction. The common theme among the three men was the pride they take in the new stadium.
“I’m coming in new and had nothing to do with this becoming a reality,” Waggoner said. “To know it’s in its final stages of being polished up and understand what platform this creates and excitement it creates for a lot of things in the future of ENMU athletics and the city of Portales. It’s very exciting for me.”
Fares is the man primarily in charge of the stadium
“I’m proud for the whole thing,” Fares said. “It’s just amazing. I’m really anxious right now. During the construction, I just wanted to have it done.”
What makes it different from the old Blackwater Draw stadium — everything has been upgraded.
“The technology, amenities and locker rooms are much more hospitable to us and the visiting teams,” he said. “The field also won’t take as much preparation to get ready for a game or anything else that would happen at that place. The video board and the flags of all the schools in the LSC (Lone Star Conference).”
Situated in between the baseball field and the old soccer field on ENMU’s campus, one of the big questions was how to deal with parking as the stadium can accommodate 4,000 people and can be expanded up to 5,500 in the future.
“There’s a lot of parking,” Fares said. “A lot more than at the old stadium. We’re keeping it gravel right now, because it costs around $1 million to asphalt that area. We’re going to look into it as time goes. Here we can have 850 vehicles and 300 on the visitor side. And the basketball arena will be available to park as well.”
ENMU President Steven Gamble said he is pleased with the results of the new stadium.
“I think it’s a wonderful addition to the campus,” he said. “It’s money well-spent and will be very well utilized by our student athletes with opportunities for our community to use it as well. (I’m) Really impressed with the construction and architecture that went into this stadium.”
ENMU head football coach Josh Lynn will be getting a lot of use out of the new stadium as the Hounds will host six regular season home games this year after just three last year. Lynn can’t wait for this campaign to start.
“It’s incredible,” Lynn said. “As it started to come together, especially the aesthetics in the last few days. I think the excitement for the university’s athletic program, through the stadium, it’s as good as I’ve ever seen it for Eastern athletics. I can’t think of any other time where the buzz around Roosevelt County was about the stadium. I go to church, they’re talking about the stadium. I go to go buy groceries, they’re talking about the stadium. That’s never been like that before here.”
The stadium will first be used by the Portales Rams on Aug. 26 as they host Texico. The Hounds will have their first game on Sept. 10 when they host Western New Mexico.
Further information about the stadium:
- Seating capacity of 4,000, with additional seating available on the grassy areas including the south side under the new video board known as "Greek Hill" - the fraternities will sit there.
- The field itself is a multi-colored artificial turf and has drainage pipes underneath 11 inches of gravel and two inches of fine sand. It feels like grass as it has the same thickness and softness.
- The video board on the south side of the field has a screen size of 40X40.
- Tailgating will take place on the home side parking lot. The area is approximately 300X400 and will not be paved. Tailgating will start three hours before game time and ends 30 minutes before the game. Grilling and alcohol are both allowed. You must be at least 21 years old to consume alcohol.
- The locker rooms are on the north visiting side. Both ENMU and Portales High will have their own themed locker rooms with their school colors. The visiting teams will use the locker room of the one not playing that day.
- The field is surrounded by an eight-lane track, composed of 3/8 inches of rubber and resin on top of three inches of asphalt. This will be used to host both high school and college track meets
- The press box will have top-of-the-line WiFi throughout the entire stadium. All cameras, microphones and audio equipment will be wireless.
- There are two camera areas on the top portion of the home side of the field to allow for complete coverage of the games.
- All concession stands are on the home side. Restrooms are located on both sides of the field.
- The “Spirit Rock” is located next to the locker rooms. It is a piece of the old Blackwater Draw stadium that ENMU players will touch as they walk onto the field. The Spirit Rock is in place but remains covered. The spirit rock will be unveiled the day of the first ENMU football game in the new stadium.
Schedule Before First Game on September 10
|4 p.m.||Tailgating Parking Area Opens (closes at 6:30 p.m.)|
|5:40 p.m.||Greyhound Dog Walk: A new tradition as team enters stadium from Field House|
|6:30 p.m.||Ribbon Cutting and Special Recognition|
|6:40 p.m.||Greyhound Sound Performs an American Medley|
|6:45 p.m.||9/11 Tribute and Special Flag Presentation|
|7 p.m.||Kick Off Against Western New Mexico University|
Dedicate Al Whitehead Field