In front of the largest crowd for a home opener in Colorado State history, the Rams opened their new stadium in style. However, the success on the field did not match that off it as more than 37,000 fans were forced to endure the inevitable learning curves surrounding parking, tailgating and concessions.
Ram faithful appeared in herds to the parking lots all around the stadium, many of which charged a fee. The students that happened to drive to the game were not spared the expense of parking, even with their enrollment at the university.
“I had to pay ten dollars I think,” sophomore Emile Guilbeau said. “I was not that surprised that students had to pay but it is kind of a drag given how little money a lot of us have. At Hughes, it did seem easier. It was just a giant patch of dirt and everyone parked in the same place. The way parking is now reminds me of going to a Broncos game with a bunch of lots all scattered around. The tailgating (at Hughes) was a lot more central too which was nice.”
For the patrons that chose not to park near the stadium, CSU offered multiple buses that delivered fans to the stadium, similar to how TransFort operates on weekdays. However, the buses on game day had upgraded interiors and features over the normal buses CSU provides on weekdays.
“Every day for class I take the Around the Horn north and southbound buses,” sophomore Natalie Gofran said. “The buses today were a little confusing, but once I figured out where they went, it was a blessing. I did not have to walk all the way back to my apartment in the sun. The normal buses for school are not that bad. But these ones were super air conditioned inside and gave a ton of relief after standing in the heat all day.”
Once inside the stadium, Rams fans were treated to a completely Colorado centric décor, with very open views of campus. Concessions in the stadium dawned names that were Colorado based and left a hometown feel.
“I loved that all the stands had unique names,” sophomore Alexis Gonzales said. “Instead of being generic, they worked to make it really unique and it helped with the experience.”
Even though the concessions had new names, the operation was choppy to start the season. Concession lines went to the stands and blocked people from returning to their seats. Fans were also forced to endure very long wait times to purchase snacks and/or drinks.
“I stood in line for what felt like an hour at halftime,” Gonzales said. “The stands went pretty slow and the lines were just insane. Even the water fountain line was winding. The people working were volunteers though so I understand why.”
With an abundance of rowdy students perusing the stadium throughout the game, the walkways were jam-packed and caused a lot of frustration among a populous that was a large mix of chaotic students, children and alumni.
“I saw a ton of kids and their parents’ kind of looked scared,” Guilbeau said. “Their kids could have gotten lost in the mess and you could kind of see that on the parents’ face. It seemed like the walkways were too small for so many people.”
The inaugural game lent a spotlight to not only the good, but also the bad parts of the new game day experience. The overwhelming excitement outweighed the criticism, but the stadium faces a number of issues that may need to be addressed in its future, which is to be expected when moving to stadium in the middle of campus.
Collegian sports reporter Luke Zahlmann can be reached by email at email@example.com or on Twitter @lukezahlmann.