Rob and Lola Salazar hit a home run for athletics and education.
By Janalee Card Chmel
Publish Date: January 30, 2014
Rob and Lola Salazar have always made education a priority. And it wasn’t always easy.
The two high school sweethearts married 31 years ago right after graduation and they took turns going to college as they raised their young family.
“After Rob graduated, he got a job, and it was my turn to go to college,” remembers Lola (B.A. elementary education ’89). “But I had two babies! Metro was great because they offered flexible hours.”
The couple’s focus on education paid off. The Salazars own several companies and in 1999 formed the Salazar Family Foundation, which contributes to Denver-area nonprofit organizations that provide funding to students and schools in need. They also are the brains behind the Regency Student Housing community, which serves the Auraria Campus, including the majority of MSU Denver’s student-athletes.
When the University announced that it would build a new athletics complex to serve its athletes as well as the surrounding low-income communities, the Salazars took notice. MSU Denver needed a naming sponsor for the complex, and the Salazars were interested for many reasons.
“From a business perspective, the opportunity immediately caught my attention,” Rob Salazar says. “What a perfect way to further reaffirm our relationship with Metro and the athletes. Then, when Lola heard more about the project and all that it could do for the nearby communities, we just got more excited.”
Their excitement became a commitment to the project. MSU Denver recently announced a $1 million, 10-year naming rights agreement for the facility, which will be called The Regency Athletic Complex at MSU Denver.
“We have had a longstanding relationship with the Regency and are thrilled to continue to build on a successful partnership,” says Athletic Director Joan McDermott. “This sponsorship agreement strengthens our relationship and provides funds for a state-of-the-art facility.”
The $12 million complex is south of the West Colfax Avenue viaduct adjacent to Shoshone Street, east of Interstate 25. It includes eight tennis courts that opened in August, a soccer field scheduled for completion by fall 2014, and baseball and softball diamonds opening in early 2015. The long-term plan calls for a 20,000-square-foot building to house locker rooms, a strength and conditioning facility, and an athletic training room.
In addition to using the complex for varsity athletics, intramural sports and academic programs, the University is hosting activities for its neighbors. Children from La Alma/Lincoln Park, Sun Valley and Valverde are taking tennis lessons at the complex and they will soon use it for many other sports.
“For those kids in the nearby neighborhoods, they get to walk onto a college campus to participate in sports that they may have never had access to before,” Lola Salazar says. “And when they see the Metro athletes — those young adults — walking around with backpacks and books, the children will be inspired.”
“We were both raised with very good values and a very good work ethic. We both grew up watching our parents work very hard,” Rob Salazar adds. “But aside from that, if we hadn’t received a good education we wouldn’t have anything. That’s why it’s so important for us to support education.”