Students come to college not just to find their desired career path, but also to make memories and lasting friendships. However, that venture can prove to be difficult in a city like Las Cruces that has little to no entertainment in the city limits to support a social citizen lifestyle.
The city of Las Cruces is home to 114,000 residents and is located in an area that supports a warm and consistent climate. Other than the dusty spring winds and scorching summer temperatures, our climate is desirable to many.
Our city’s cost of living is fair compared to state and national averages, and the cost of home ownership and rental accommodations is 21% lower than the national average. With a desirable climate, lower cost of living and one of New Mexico’s top universities, Las Cruces seems like it should be a top choice for college students and non-students alike.
The city hasn’t had a simple entertainment venue like a bowling alley for nearly five years, and it’s unclear if such a venue will ever be made accessible again. For college students, there are very few clubs, bars, or nighttime entertainment activities for those who would like to take a much-needed break after a hard week’s work.
In Las Cruces, the only real form of entertainment is to eat and drink, and even that can seem like a subpar option as the majority of restaurants close before 10 p.m. In search of adequate nighttime entertainment, students may choose to drive to El Paso for a good time. That, in and of itself, poses a safety risk and takes potential tax revenue out of state.
An adequate college town, especially when located in a desirable climate like Las Cruces, should consist of a mix of outdoor activities in addition to indoor ones. That can include things like putt-putt golf, a water park, arcades, comedy clubs, dancing venues and a variety of live music.
To put it into perspective, it’s not an issue of space to host building these venues and recreational opportunities. If one does a simple Google search for how much commercial land is available for purchase within city limits, there are typically dozens of properties for sale at any given time.
Instead, it is a lack of local governmental interest to incentivize bringing in entertainment for college students and residents alike. Even though Las Cruces is a college town, it almost seems like city officials are catering to the retired age demographic.
Even on campus, entertainment and opportunity for nightlife is subpar. After Thursday classes end at around 3:45 p.m., the campus looks like a ghost town. There are little to no students socializing on campus and I personally have yet to see students actively engage in university sponsored activities for us students.
The student activity center and gym are completely closed on Sundays and the Corbett Student Union food court even closes early during the week. Talk about a lack of options for food and fitness.
Not to mention the ongoing lack of lighting at nighttime makes for a depressing walk back to one’s dorm, in addition to being incredibly unsafe.
So what can the city and university do to combat a seemingly consistent epidemic of lackluster entertainment? I suggest that the city should incentivize bringing in large big-box entertainment venues such as Top Golf, Cinemark Theaters, Dave and Busters, etc., to attract a larger demographic of people.
Meanwhile, the university should allow its student facilities like the activity center and gym, as well as the Corbett Student Union food court to stay open later to sponsor more social interactions among students.
After all, we humans are social creatures and deserve to have options to entertain ourselves without having to travel long distances just to have a good time. Beyond that, it would be better to keep our tax dollars in Las Cruces and keep our view of the beautiful Organ Mountains.
The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to New Mexico State University, the NMSU Department of Journalism and Media Studies, Kokopelli, or any other organization, committee, group or individual.