'DO NOT GO TO EL PASO' -- UNLESS YOU'RE BUDDIES WITH THE GOVERNOR

Peter Trevisani's politically correct -- and connected -- soccer team

New Mexico United’s 2020 season is over.

Saturday night, the team was “bested in a penalty kick shootout in a … playoff showdown” by El Paso Locomotive FC.

The setting for final match of the year was more than a little ironic. Just two days earlier, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, in a slide presented during her weekly COVID-19 update, admonished her constituents: “Do not go to El Paso.”

New Mexicans have never gotten a complete picture of how well the United has complied with the extensive lockdown dictates -- e.g., travel quarantines, mass-gathering restrictions -- issued by the governor. While the team was barred from hosting matches in Albuquerque, throughout the summer and fall, it left the state regularly, playing a total of 17 times against rivals in Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, and Texas

In response to a July inquiry by KOAT, head coach Troy Lesesne claimed that the United was working “closely with the governor’s office,” and testing its staffers weekly. The players, he said, “are virtually in their apartments all the time until we go and play matches.” Peter Trevisani, the team’s owner and president, got a bit snippy when asked if the United was getting special treatment: “No, I wouldn’t agree with that, just because I think we’re a professional sports team, and we’re conducting ... this is our business.”

Of course, the employees of manifold New Mexico-based businesses must travel, and it’s not clear how many had opportunities to work “closely with the governor’s office” on compliance. Fortunately for Trevisani, the Land of Enchantment’s chief executive is a pal.

Months earlier, the United’s owner was named to the governor’s “Economic Recovery Council.” The group was charged with advising her “on strategies for gradually reopening New Mexico businesses in a smart, safe and effective manner and for helping New Mexico’s economy to grow and thrive as it emerges from the current public health emergency.”

Massachusetts native with degrees from Boston College and Columbia University, Trevisani lived in New York City and London before moving to New Mexico. He and his wife are former employees of Santa Fe-based Thornburg Investment Management, a firm started by Garrett Thornburg, a major political player in the Land of Enchantment. (In 2020 alone, he has given over $24,000 to prominent state Democrats, including U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland and congressional candidate Teresa Leger Fernandez.” Trevisnai’s contributions have been smaller -- $500 to a PAC run by Pete Buttigieg last year, and a June donation of $1,000 to Ben Ray Luján.)

Evidence that the United’s top executive understands how to stay in the good graces of New Mexico’s political establishment arrived in the wake of the death of George Floyd. As American cities descended into chaos and violence, the United posted a “resource guide for our supporters on how to support our Black community members”on its website. The material included a curious recommendation: “Take to the streets. If you or someone you know is arrested while protesting, Senator Jacob Candelaria is offering free legal representation.” (The Democratic politician’s phone number and email were helpfully provided.) It also recommended How to Be an Antiracist, by Ibram X. Kendi, which the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette called “a textbook example of how not to bridge the racial divide.” A video included as part of the team’s “resource guide” featured United player Austin Yearwood, who averred that the “murders” of Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and “countless others in the past” required “follow through” that “sparks change.” 

With media attention shifted from racial politics to the presidential election and the season now over, Trevisani is free to focus on the United’s next project: building a permanent home. And courtesy New Mexico taxpayers, so far, he’s got more than $4 million for the task.

During the regular session of 2020 legislature, lawmakers approved a capital-outlay appropriation “to acquire land for and to plan, design and construct phase 1 of a sports and cultural center, including art exhibits, public outdoor spaces, retail and dining facilities and playing fields, in Albuquerque in Bernalillo county.”

Translation: It’s the start of subsidies to the United’s stadium. Potentially costing as much as $100 million, the facility “is projected to seat between 10,500 and 15,000 fans with a natural grass field designed for professional soccer,” and might “include an art/cultural center, which could house various exhibits, cultural and community events, and/or commercial retail space and housing.” Why taxpayers need to contribute to a stadium for a wildly popular team that led its league in attendance in 2019 -- and is owned by a financier with access to very deep pockets -- remains an unanswered question.

“Woke” virtue-signaling, political cronyism, and taxpayer support for “private” enterprise. That’s New Mexico government, in a nutshell, in the third decade of the 21st century. Trevisani and the United’s powerful backers know how to play the game well.