December 2014 - The Sports Connection: Gildan New Mexico Bowl
New Mexico has a new holiday tradition. Since it's inception in 2006, the New Mexico Bowl has been played on the Saturday afternoon before Christmas at University Stadium on the University of New Mexico campus. The contest has pitted the Mountain West Conference against the Western Athletic Conference in the state's only annually nationally televised sporting event.
While the 2006 New Mexico Bowl was the first Division I Bowl game in the state of New Mexico, there was postseason action in the Land of Enchantment before. In 1980, the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Mustangs played Eastern Illinois at University Stadium in the Division II championship game, called the Zia Bowl. It snowed in Albuquerque just two days before the game and the weather was unusually cold. Helicopters were brought in to dry the fields and the grass was painted green. A very small crowd showed up to the Cal Poly win the D-II national title, 21-13.
When it's not bowl season, the New Mexico Bowl stays busy making sure it's name is not forgotten among the nation and the local community. The bowl happily co-sponsors the Presbyterian Ear Institutes' Run To Break The Silence, a 5K, 10K and 20K fun run at Sandia Resort and Casino. They also team with NCAA Football to put on a free clinic for area youth that was coached by both New Mexico and New Mexico State coaches. As the state and the game continue to grow, the New Mexico Bowl eagerly anticipates its chance to become the premier annual sporting event in the Land of Enchantment