Rocky Mountain Showdown, “Slow”-down? Student interest in annual CSU, CU rivalry game waning in past decade

Rachel Riley wouldn’t miss the Rocky Mountain Showdown for anything.

“I went last year as a freshman and I just loved all the energy that CSU brought to Mile High Stadium,” Riley, a sophomore biology major, said.


But Riley might be a member of a dwindling group. According to Associate Athletic Director Gary Ozello, student interest in the annual football game between CSU and CU-Boulder has decreased over the past decade.

“We’re selling tickets, the interest has been high,” Ozello said. “But it’s not as high as it was ten years ago when both teams were ranked in the top 25 going into this game.” 

In 2010, the Showdown drew a total of 60,989 fans, according to the Fort Collins Coloradoan. Last year’s crowd showed a slight decrease in numbers with 57,186 fans showing up. In comparison, the Showdown’s largest crowd in 2003 came in at 76,219 fans.
On Thursday, approximately 5,000 of the 10,000 available student tickets had been sold for the upcoming Sept. 1 game, including the CSU marching band’s seats, according to Ozello.

The sales came in spite of continued promotion and a deadline extension of student ticket sales. Ozello said the athletic department extended the sales period to provide more of an opportunity for students to buy tickets, knowing there would be great interest this week.

“I think there is tremendous student interest and we’re always very proud of the student support we get at this game,” Ozello said. “Whatever interest has waned we will rekindle that interest under Coach Mac (football coach Jim McElwain).”

Riley, who is a member of student spirit group/athletic event support group Ram Ruckus, said she thought the game brought out students’ school spirit.

Ram Ruckus members did not receive priority seating for the game as they do for all other CSU athletic events, according to Riley. However, they did have the opportunity to purchase pre-sale tickets and 100 members received a free parking permit at Mile High Stadium for the day of the game.

“I think the rivalry gives the student body more of an incentive to go,” Riley said. “The school who wins gets bragging rights for the next year.”

Not at all students agreed, however. Junior business major Zach Ham did not purchase a ticket to the game this year and only attended once, as a freshman.

“I think that it (the rivalry between CSU and CU-Boulder) is insignificant because they’re both institutions of higher learning,” Ham said.

Students were able to purchase $25 tickets until Aug. 29 through For more information on the Rocky Mountain Showdown, students should visit

Collegian writer Emily Smith can be reached at