When the UTEP football home schedule was released and the team had seven home games at the Sun Bowl including NMSU and Army, many people thought that the Miners would benefit with large attendance totals. The first two home games brought in more than 67,000 fans to the Sun Bowl, but the next two games have totaled just 39,000. UTEP announced a crowd of 17,751 for FIU last Saturday but the actual crowd looked even smaller. With the team currently 1-5 and in the middle of their bye week before a tough road game at UTSA, the Miners will be lucky to draw more than 50,000 fans over their final three home games.

While Coach Kugler looks for ways to turn around his season, the Sun Bowl is starting to deteriorate. The stadium is 53 years old and it looks like a facility in need of a $50 million facelift. Prior to the New Mexico State game, a small piece of concrete in the east concourse area fell and needed to be repaired. The athletic department is trying to fundraise in order to add suites in the south side of the stadium and rebuild the press box. The Sun Bowl needs a total renovation to bring it up to speed with most modern college football stadiums. My wish is that permanent seating will replace the bleachers in part of the Sun Bowl.

Armando Vela.
Armando Vela.

Besides the structural improvement needed, the game experience is not very family friendly. Just last month, the school decided to terminate the Fun Zone. For the last eight years, kids had jumping balloons and other interactive activities to play during home games at the Sun Bowl. The Fun Zone was discontinued after the Army game and the school gave no reason for their decision.

Besides winning football games, what else can UTEP do to improve the family atmosphere at the Sun Bowl? How about partnering with Speaking Rock Entertainment Center and attract big name musicians to play three or four songs during halftime at Miner games. Speaking Rock would cover all of the costs and sponsor the concerts. Just last week, Poison lead singer Bret Michaels performed at Speaking Rock Entertainment Center. A promotion like this would attract more than the 17,000 fans that attended last Saturday’s game against FIU at the Sun Bowl. Karl Maas, the General Manager at Speaking Rock Entertainment Center came up with this idea and told me that they are interested in working with UTEP for the final three football games. The ball is now in UTEP’s court.

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