On-campus stadium proposal poses opposition, challenges, for new athletic director, community
By: Jeff Vinton, Sports Editor (at the time), Spilled Ink
When Colorado State University hired Jack Graham on Dec. 2, 2011 as the new athletic director, the idea of the Rams playing in an on-campus stadium instead of at Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium, about three miles off campus, was proposed. Since then, it has been one of the most debated topics in recent Fort Collins history.
Graham suggested the idea of an on-campus stadium for three main reasons.
“There are a number of reasons that led me to conclude that we need to have an on-campus football stadium,” Graham said. “The opportunity to be completely engaged with our alumni and to get our alumni in a position that they are enthused and passionate about giving back to our university, and not just to our athletic program, but across the university to our school of engineering, to our ag school, to the school of veterinary medicine to liberal arts, et cetera. This is about helping the entire university. That as well as the brand recognition and the opportunity to attract more students to come to CSU are primarily the reasons that I was committed to this.”
Graham partnered with CSU President Tony Frank, and they have been aggressive in their pursuit of a new stadium. They have assembled a committee of 15 area citizens, met with construction companies, design firms, and engineers to learn what it would take to build it. Graham also believes that a new stadium will benefit the wider community.
“As far as the greater Fort Collins community is concerned, this, an on-campus stadium will have a very positive economic impact on Fort Collins,” Graham said. “I think we can expect a positive economic impact of $1-1.5 million a year.”
Not everyone agrees with the CSU Athletic Director, however. Greg Thompson, a freelance writer living in Fort Collins, is a member of the opposition group Save Our Stadium Hughes (SOSH). He is concerned about what an on-campus stadium will actually bring to campus.
“An on-campus stadium is just going to bring traffic nightmares, trash nightmares, noise nightmares, and safety nightmares,” Thompson said. “I talked to some female students and they were worried about rowdy, inebriated people walking around campus and taking away the safety they feel. I am also worried about a new stadium taking up the green space that students enjoy so much on campus.”
Graham plans to consider those worries and opposing views in deciding whether or not building a stadium is the right decision.
“I really welcome the opposition. I think that opposing opinions and views makes the whole process better. It’ll make us more balanced in our approach, it’ll make us more disciplined in our approach,” Graham said. “And at the end of the day, I think the opposing voices can help us to a better answer and a better result, whether we build the stadium or not.”
Thompson wants the supporters to really look at their arguments.
“I want them (the supporters of an on-campus stadium) to know that, so far, their arguments for the on-campus stadium are weak. At the meeting last week, Jack Graham used the word ‘engaged’ about 50 times. I don’t think being ‘engaged’ is worth $200 million, trash, traffic, safety, and noise. And, a new stadium is not going to help you score more touchdowns or get more third down conversions.”
The Stadium Advisory Committee has not set a date for their next meeting, but it is expected to be sometime in early to mid-March. The SOSH steering committee will meet again this evening at 7:30 p.m. at the Westminster Presbyterian Church, and the public is welcome to attend.
(Note: On Oct. 4, the CSU Board of Governors gave approval to go ahead with a fundraising campaign for the on-campus stadium (per www.colostate.edu/stadium/). This is not the final approval for the stadium but it is a giant step toward the building of the new stadium.)