Everything you know about the student game day experience at Colorado State University is set to change.
Now, just three months from the grand opening of the on-campus stadium and the inaugural football game against Oregon State on Aug. 26, the Colorado State Athletic Department is aiming to create an experience for CSU students that rivals all institutions across the nation.
In a roundtable discussion with various members of the athletic administration and the local media last week, Athletic Director Joe Parker addressed the project boldly.
“I can say with educated confidence that we will have the best stadium in America,” Parker said. “Maybe not the largest stadium in America, obviously, but all the components that will be a part of it, and I’ve told each of you, the thing I’m most proud of is the nature of the public concourse, the fact that (this) is a space that I really think is going to serve the entire stadium population.”
The biggest priority is pleasing season ticket holders and the people that are making the stadium financially viable. They have finished with the VIP areas, the New Belgium Porch and Orthopedic & Spine Center of the Rockies Field Club.
However, after the season ticket holders and donors, the priority is pleasing the students. More importantly, the athletic department wanted to ensure that students were able to be give input and play a part in the decision-making process.
“What has really been so significant about this entire process is that the entire institution, from top to bottom, has made students a number one priority,” Senior Associate Athletic Director for Sales, Marketing and Communications Chris Ferris told the Collegian Tuesday.
Through multiple surveys given to students, researching other universities across the campus and working directly with the Associated Students of Colorado State University, the athletic department has spent the last three years working with students to create an experience that is fit for a campus that is now home to a $220 million state-of-the-art stadium.
From the minute students arrive on campus, until the final whistle blows each Saturday, Ferris explained how improving the overall experience of the people that bring the ruckus every weekend is paramount to creating the optimal gameday for all involved.
“The energy in the stadium starts with Ram Ruckus and the students,” Ferris said. “Making that (gameday) experience great for all of our students on campus has been, and continues to be, our top priority.”
The first thing students need to know is that they will no longer need physical tickets.
In previous years, students could get a paper ticket at the McGraw Athletic Center or the Lory Student Center. Other options for student tickets included downloading a PDF or receiving a physical ticket at the door.
Moving forward, the process will be significantly less time consuming. Instead of waiting in long lines for physical tickets, all students can reserve a spot in advance and then scan their ID directly at the door.
The new ticketing process will begin with the inaugural football game on Aug. 26, but the new system will be used for all the major sports next year: football, volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball.
While students have the option to reserve in advance, it is not technically required. Students that show up the door, will simply scan their ID. However, if the entire student allotment of 10,500 tickets were to be reserved in advance, the game would be considered a sellout and the students that reserved in advance would be given priority.
Reward System to Incentivize Students
Along with the new ticketing system, students that regularly attend games will earn points in a new reward system. The exact details of the system are still being worked out, but the general idea will be to incentivize students to regularly attend games.
Likely perks of the reward system will be prize packages and pregame events, similarly to how Ram Ruckus functioned this year. The key difference will be that students will not have to pay anything to be eligible for these rewards. They simply need to attend games, which are paid for in student fees each year.
A claim schedule for when and how students will be able to specifically reserve each game is anticipated to be released by the first week of August, if not sooner.
Another key factor in improving the student experience was making the stadium as accessible to students as possible.
Although some students living on campus will have to move their cars to the designated re-park areas, a process which was developed with the input of ASCSU, RHA, faculty staff and online student surveys, the University will provide a free shuttle service for those students to and from all residence hall lots to the re-park areas, including the Research Boulevard lot, which is located south of campus.
Senior Associate Athletic Director for Facilities Operations Doug Max, who played a key role in the project since day one, explained how he has worked closely with various student organizations, including ASCSU, to help ensure the re-park process is as accommodating as possible.
“We have had students on all of the sub-committees,” Max said.
Max explained that with the the help of ASCSU and student housing, the University was able to gather as much input as possible and ultimately came up with re-park program.
Max also explained that the re-park program is not unique to CSU and how most schools with on-campus stadiums have re-park programs in some capacity.
“We took a lot of information from schools like Arkansas, Kansas State, LSU, Minnesota and Nebraska about the overall on-campus experience,” Max said.
For students that wish to use alternative transportation, multiple bike valets will also be located around the stadium, where patrons can check gear before they head into the stadium. To accommodate for an increase in cyclists, bike racks will also be brought in with the help of central receiving to help account for bicycle storage.
Once on campus, that is when the real party begins. Starting this fall, there will be weekly pre-game concerts on the west lawn of the Lory Student Center. Students will be encouraged to gather and spend the hours leading up to the game with their fellow community members. In the sculpture garden, those who are of legal age will be able to purchase alcoholic beverages.
“We are really trying to make the west lawn of the LSC and the sculpture garden a special place to be on gameday,” Assistant Athletic Director for Marketing and Digital Media Nick Popplewell said.
“We know Fort Collins is all about the music (scene),” Popplewell said. “We have been working through the Bohemian Foundation to line up some acts, but the expectation is we will be able to line up a concert series on the west lawn, as well as coordinate other food vendors, activities and games.”
Unlike at Hughes Stadium, in-stadium wifi will be available, so posting selfies and updating your status will be easier than ever.
With increased technology, pre-game festivities and other events still being planned, the idea is to make the stadium the place to be on Saturdays this fall. Whether you are a diehard Ram fan that bleeds green and gold, or you are a first-time attendee, the CSU Athletic Department hopes the gameday experience at Colorado State will have something to offer for everyone.
“When I think about student engagement, I cannot help but think about Moby Arena, when the men’s basketball team hosted San Diego State,” Ferris said. “There is no question that students were the sixth man of that game and really helped create a home court advantage, unlike any other in the country…We are going to work everyday to engage our student-leaders and student-fans, because the energy that the students bring to the stadium makes it a great environment for everybody involved.”
On Aug. 5, the University will host a football open house, where fans will be able to take place in a dry run. The event was designed so fans can learn how to enter the stadium and where their seats are located. The event is primarily for season ticket holders with assigned seats, but students are welcome to the event.
The general public will be able to purchases mini plans for tickets (three-game packages), starting on June 26. General public single-game sales start July 26.
More info on the re-park program can be found here: NewStadium17_StudentRepark_p2
Collegian sports director Justin Michael can be reached by email at email@example.com or Twitter @JustinTMichael.