LAS CRUCES, NEW MEXICO (KTSM) – New Mexico State will be calling Phoenix home for a bit longer.
NMSU announced on Wednesday that its men’s and women’s basketball teams would be playing their Western Athletic Conference “home” games on the campus of Grand Canyon University in Phoenix.
The Aggie men will call Antelope Gymnasium home for a maximum of six WAC games, while the women will play up to eight “home” games at GCU’s Canyon Activity Center. The women’s first WAC home games are scheduled for Jan. 8-9, 2021, while the men will have to wait to play WAC games at Antelope Gym until Jan. 22-23, 2021.
“While we would love to be practicing in Las Cruces and preparing to play in the Pan American Center that is not the reality we are currently dealing with,” NMSU Director of Athletics Mario Moccia said. “Our men’s and women’s basketball staffs and Deputy AD Braun Cartwright reviewed a multitude of venues in and around the Phoenix area and Grand Canyon University’s facilities worked best for us.”
The decision to play home games at GCU was necessitated by the severity of COVID-19 cases in New Mexico, and regulations put in place by governor Michelle Lujan Grisham to stem the spread of the virus that prohibits the Aggies from working out in groups larger than five.
The New Mexico State men have been staying and practicing at the Arizona Grand Resort and Spa in Phoenix since November. NMSU officials told KTSM on Wednesday that the NMSU women’s team will join the men at the Arizona Grand on Jan. 3, 2021, in time for the start of WAC play.
The men and women will use the same practice court set up in a ballroom at the hotel, but will stay in separate parts of the resort.
Costs for for renting facilities at Grand Canyon won’t be known until next week, according to an NMSU official. It will cost the university around $20,000 per team, per week to now house both the men’s and women’s teams at the Arizona Grand Resort and Spa, roughly $40,000 per week total.
The Aggies will have top of the line facilities The 1,500-seat Antelope Gymnasium is the former home of GCU’s men’s and women’s basketball teams and now serves as a secondary venue for ‘Lopes athletics. It still hosts games occasionally when GCU Arena is unavailable.
A 136,000-square-foot athletic facility that houses 10 full-size basketball and volleyball courts, the Canyon Activity Center was opened in 2019 and serves as GCU’s club and intramural sports hub.
“I would be remiss if I didn’t express my gratitude and that of Aggie Nation’s to GCU President Brian Mueller, Interim VP of Athletics Jamie Boggs and her entire staff for making this happen,” continued Moccia. “To have our rivals open their facilities to us when we needed it speaks volumes of GCU’s character.”
The NMSU men have not played a game since Dec. 1, after undergoing a 12-day pause due to a pair of COVID-19 cases. Head coach Chris Jans told the media earlier this week that the Aggies would like to schedule multiple nonconference games before beginning WAC play Jan. 8.
As for the women, the Aggies will play at Kansas on Dec. 29, before coming to Phoenix to begin WAC action.