FORT COLLINS — They’re building it.
Realistically, they now have no choice.
While discussing whether to move forward with construction of an on-campus football stadium, Colorado State president Tony Frank and athletic director Jack Graham have been blunt about the deficiencies of Hughes Stadium. They have so criticized the 44-year-old off-campus stadium, they have dealt death blows to its already suspect long-term viability.
With Frank expected to announce in August a “go” or “no-go” decision on the on-campus project, debates over whether Hughes Stadium is redeemable now are pointless. In the wake of this very public discussion, new CSU football coach Jim McElwain will have no credibility recruiting to Hughes as anything other than the place where the Rams could gloriously set the stage for a new stadium’s opening.
When I spoke with him recently in his office, andwrote about his views, Frank labeled the open talk about the existing stadium the “genie out of the bottle” element.
When I also met with Graham recently, he was even more decisive about Hughes’ inadequacies, primarily its off-campus location but also the likely staggering cost of maintaining and upgrading it to the first-class facility he and Frank covet. None of that is shocking, considering Graham’s hiring as AD in late 2011 came after he visited Frank as an alumnus and retired successful businessman, offering to lead the fundraising campaign for an on-campus facility, now estimated to cost $246 million.
This also isn’t a case of Frank and Graham letting their guards down and then wishing they hadn’t said what they’ve said. I’m convinced they know they won’t be believed if they later attempt to spin it as forgettable campaign rhetoric. Most important, though, and to their considerable credit, they’re telling us what they think.
“I think it’s really difficult to achieve this kind of excellence we’re talking about with the kind of facility we have 4 miles off campus,” Graham said.
I pointed out that Hughes Stadium didn’t scare off a young recruit quarterback named Jack Graham in 1973.
“It was 5 years old,” he said. “It had a press box. I wasn’t able to connect the dots between on-campus vs. off-campus. I thought it was a cool facility. But that was 40 years ago. … For me to pull punches and say, ‘It’s OK, having an on-campus stadium is not an indispensable component to solving our problems’? I can’t say that. I think it’s at the core of solving our problems.”
The new stadium would include an alumni welcome center and other attractions. It would be funded through private donations and borrowing against predictable future revenues. The on- or off-campus stadium discussion dates back many years, including when CSU president William Morgan was the major voice in the decision to build Hughes to the west of campus. It moved to the forefront again after then-AD Paul Kowalczyk last year asked the retired Graham, then a Boulder resident, to donate additional money for renovation of the Hall of Fame room in Moby Arena.
“I’m kind of a people pleaser. I’m not good at saying no,” Graham said. “I said no. I said no because I had this strong feeling that we were playing around the edges. Why are we going to fix up a Hall of Fame room when we were on our way to our third successive 3-9 football season? I was just flat-out grumpy. … We all hate to lose. That’s a given. I don’t like to lose any more than anybody else does. It was more my view that the athletic department and more specifically our football program was taking down the reputation of our university.”
Graham told me that he and friends had a “boys football weekend” tradition, making visits for golf and college games across the country. Each on-campus experience reminded him that attending CSU games involved no reconnection with his alma mater’s campus. Explaining his refusal to contribute to the Hall of Fame project, he told Kowalczyk that an on-campus stadium would be “a difference maker.”
When he told Frank the same thing, and said he would lead the fundraising campaign, the school president pondered and came back to Graham with a question: How would you like to be athletic director? They shared the view that a successful football program ultimately can help CSU — which recently completed a $500 million general fundraising campaign — draw out-of-state students, combating the disappearing funding for higher education from the state of Colorado.
They can’t take back what they’ve said. They can’t turn back.
Read more:Terry Frei: CSU has no good choice but to build new football stadium – The Denver Posthttp://www.denverpost.com/frei/ci_21033791/terry-frei-csu-has-no-good-choice-but#ixzz208ZaeClX
Come support CSU and show your support for the on-campus stadium initiative. The committee will make their recommendations to Dr.Frank and will also unveil the latest design renderings. It’s going to be an exciting event and we encourage everyone to come out, wear your BeBold t-shirts, and get their early.
BeBold will be giving away 100 yard signs to the first resident Fort Collins stadium supporters that attend the Stadium Advisory Committee Meeting Wednesday night. 7pm Lory Student Center North Ballroom. Donations are recommended and will go toward production of more yard signs. So show up early, get your yard signs, and help us tell the advisory committee to Be Bold and Build It! Any extra signs will be available at Rams Bookstore on a first come, first serve basis. Go Rams!
Be Bold CSU has seen incredibly generous donations pour in to help promote our effort in supporting the on-campus stadium dream. Alumni, fans, and students have all pitched in thousands of dollars to see us preach the importance of building an on-campus stadium. Thanks to those donations, we’ve produced hundreds of T-shirts, hundreds of bumper stickers/window clings, started two billboard campaigns, and placed 10,000 inserts in the Collegian.
But there are a couple of other MUCH MORE IMPORTANT ways to show your support for the on-campus stadium, which will have a profound impact on Dr. Frank’s decision whether to move forward or not. And they’re simple:
1. Donate to/join the Ram Club
2. If you’re a current Ram Club member, increase your donation.
3. Buy season tickets
CSU has seen hundreds of first-time Ram Club members come in this year, which no doubt comes as a result of the “Bold New Era” and on-campus stadium dream. In addition, many existing Ram Club members have drastically increased their donation levels. But, we can increase those numbers much more to WOW Dr. Frank with new members and a considerable spike in new dollars to show the momentum that the on-campus stadium dream has created. Dr. Frank needs to be convinced that creating a successful football program and building an on-campus stadium will reap a significant return on investment. Please consider donating to the Ram Club (no matter what amount!) and buying season tickets. If it helps, feel free to take advantage of the ability to spread your donation out over many months! Get involved, as this is the most important couple years for CSU athletics that we’ll probably see in our lifetimes.
As you make your donation, in the “comments box”, make sure to point out that you’ve been inspired by the Bold New Era and the on-campus stadium dream. The Ram Club deadlines for ensuring you keep your same seat locations are coming up at the end of the month, so we will naturally see a big push. But, if you’re on the fence, please consider what a difference your donation can make in the initial stages of building of a new stadium!
For more information on the Ram Club, visit:
CSU Ram Club — http://csuramclub.colostate.edu/
To join/donate the Ram Club – https://advancing.colostate.edu/GRC
To buy/renew football season tickets, call 970-491-RAMS to get your season tickets or visit:
CSU NEEDS YOU!
BeBoldCSU has received a tremendous amount of support regarding the On-Campus Stadium proposal. We knew that many would rally around this cause but had no idea that it would be this big. We’ve received support from Fort Collins and the surrounding areas to far away places like Dubai and Vietnam. In fact we’ve recorded over 16,000 supporters coming to our site since it was launched about a month ago. Thank you very much and we will continue to work towards Being Bold and getting this stadium project approved!
- The stadium site would primarily live on site “C” (The eastern most Pitkin parking-lot site). Thus, the PERC gardens will be preserved and in fact enhanced with the new stadium architecture. The greenhouses will likely be relocated next to the stadium, expanded and enhanced as well. This no doubt has Ag students and faculty excited about the possibility of representing the CSU Ag heritage in front of thousands on game days as well as having enhanced agriculture academic facilities
- The stadium would be a North/South facing stadium primarily opening to the North toward the IM fields giving CSU the potential for Phase 2 in the long-term in which Newsome and Braiden Halls could be torn down and replaced as sites of an academic plaza of dorms and classrooms that really open up campus.
- It appears the stadium size would initially hold 42K seats but will be designed to allow for future expansion if and when necessary
- Coaches MacElwain and Eustachy both came out strongly in support of the stadium talking about the amazing culture an on-campus stadium will create and how it will help their programs and CSU be successful both on the field and in creating a national profile for CSU. Coach Mac was especially descriptive regarding the atmospheres he has experienced at other Universities with on-campus football stadium he has coached at over the years. He also went on in detail to explain how a new stadium will support his ability to recruit the talent necessary to win and help CSU make the case to move to a conference like the PAC12. Both coaches talked about how the vision of Jack Graham and Dr. Tony Frank are unparalleled from anywhere they have ever been and how much deep respect they have for them. Coach Eustachy specifically spoke about even as a basketball coach why he believes the stadium is so important. He discussed UCLA’s lull after being so good in basketball for a while. Said they rested on their laurels, assuming their history/tradition would be good enough to lure the country’s top basketball players…..while doing very little to invest in new facilities, etc. He said it wasn’t long before schools were beating out UCLA for the top recruits, and the Bruin basketball program suffered for an extended period because of it. Coach Eustachy said a new, on-campus stadium would be a game-changer for not just the football program and being able to attract top-level athletes, but also would help change the entire culture at CSU.
- At the next stadium meeting which is May 30, a rendering of the proposed stadium will be made available to the public. The Committee will also go through the detailed results of potential fundraising survey and breakdown, and reveal a lot of very detailed info on feasibility. We want to encourage EVERY stadium supporter and Be Bold member to show up to this meeting. Wear your Be Bold shirts, or CSU attire. Let’s pack the house with stadium supporters and be the first to see what this stadium will look like! Show up early to fill the front rows with supporters. It is absolutely vital that we show our support more then ever. We know the media will be there to report and we want to make sure they are reporting just how excited we all are about how the stadium looks, etc. SHOW UP! May 30th 7pm Lory Student Center North Ballroom.Be Bold and Go Rams!
BeBoldCSU.org has taken a look at the Center for Public Deliberation (CPD) Stadium Backgrounder document and has decided it was in the best interest of both sides to research the issues and respond. Each of the 13 arguments for the stadium (outlined in the document) now have significant references, data points, studies etc. to back up the rationale for building the stadium. We believe it’s important to start talking about the hard facts and if there aren’t hard facts then at least reference other schools who were in similar situations to CSU and decided to do something BOLD to change the status-quo.
We invite you to download the document and read for yourself. This document has been sent back to the CPD, Tony Frank, and Jack Graham.
A big thanks to the BeBold team who took on this effort!
- Stadium plans stir talk at CSU about priorities (denverpost.com)