Built in the late 1930s with New Deal funding, the Finley Gym in Socorro, New Mexico is a part of the city’s historical fabric.
For 30 yeas it was a part of the larger Socorro High School, then was used by a middle school after the high school opened at a different location.
More than two decades ago, the city took possession of the structure, with the gym now connected to the City of Socorro Youth Center.
Long serving not only as an athletic facility with a popular weight room but also a place for community meetings, art events, and the local Youth on Stage performance theater, the Finley Gym additionally hosted boxing legend Muhammad Ali when he stopped by for a visit one day in the spring of 1976.
Now Socorro Mayor Ravi Bhasker, backed by other city officials, says he wants the gym, described by the local El Defensor Chieftain newspaper as a “community treasure,” to have a new life.
Noting that the facility, at 202 McCutcheon Avenue, has been in neglect for several years, Bhasker is hoping to spirit an effort to substantially update and renovate the structure.
It is thought that it will probably cost around $5 million to return the Finley Gym to its former glory. Funding for that effort may come for a number of different sources at both the state and local level.
Some public input, with the Albuquerque-based NCA Architects and Planners serving as a consultant, was received late last year by the city.
Additional input will undoubtedly be invited in the months to come as the city firms up more detailed renovation plans for the gym.
By Garry Boulard