When CSU President Tony Frank made his decision about the proposed on-campus stadium, he wasn’t thinking about the CSU students know today.
Instead, he wrote in a 3,321 word campus email on Monday that he was thinking of a “significantly larger” university 50 years from now –– one with “stunning” research, a diverse student population and, as its focal point, an on campus stadium.
“… I think a well-maintained stadium located on the main campus, now with decades of tradition behind it, would be a great benefit to the university…,” Frank wrote. “And so, with that long view in mind, I support our moving forward to attempt to build such a facility.”
This is the recommendation Frank will make to the CSU System Board of Governors at 8 a.m. on Thursday, after nine months of debate and deliberation and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in consulting fees, all to realize a dream that Athletics Director Jack Graham pitched to Frank.
Frank’s recommendation, however, is nuanced. The university must be able to garner enough private support to supplement half the cost of the estimated $250 million project.
And if this $125 million fundraising goal is not met within two years, Frank explained that he will have no choice but to begin focusing the university’s energies on renovating Hughes Stadium. The 54-year-old structure needs at least $30 million in renovations over the next 10 years to remain operable.
“It is my belief that if we have not identified a viable financing plan for the new stadium to take forward within two years, we will have to suspend these efforts and make some investments in assuring that Hughes Stadium remains a viable venue for Colorado State football,” Frank wrote.
The initial charge of the Stadium Advisory Committee –– created by Frank in January –– was to present to him some sort of recommendation on whether to move forward with the proposal. But this became little more than feasibility report on the stadium as the process wore on.
“… [in this process] you not only need to dream big, you need to question, you need to challenge,” Frank said during the Stadium Advisory Committee’s first meeting on Feb. 3.
Graham offered words of caution.
“The last thing I want through this process is that it polarizes the community,” he said.
Despite his wish, the stadium proposal nevertheless did contribute to a significant amount of controversy. An anti-stadium group, Save Our Stadium: Hughes, assembled community members concerned about its potential to increase traffic, noise and commotion while plummeting property values, academic culture and overall relations with the university.
Some alumni, however, rallied together and formed a pro-stadium group called Be Bold, complete with its own set of arguments to move the proposal forward: that donations to CSU would increase, alumni would become more connected to their alma mater and the university’s national image would be polished.
Town hall meetings, campus presentations and public forums, provided a venue for community members to hash out their differences, often in opposition to the stadium.
Sixty-seven percent of CSU students are opposed to the stadium, according to an Associated Students of CSU survey released this summer.
Frank addressed the polarization that had taken place over the past nine months in his email to campus.
“As is, in my opinion, too often the case in our modern discourse, the middle ground has been squeezed out of many of these arguments by polarizing rhetoric that tries to force one into picking an either/or outcome selected from the extremes of possibilities.”
Frank finished his letter with a call to focus on the other pressing issues to the university.
“Tomorrow, CSU will, as usual, focus its attention on the reasons we exist: teaching and learning, research and discovery and creativity, service and engagement, and application,” Frank wrote. “… Preparing for tomorrow. Ideas put into action. Lives changed.
That, simply put, is the focus of a land-grant university. And tomorrow, Colorado State — stadium discussion aside — will be back at it.”
Editor in Chief Allison Sylte can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.