SOS Hughes continuing to oppose on-campus stadium, despite go-ahead from CSU President

Even though CSU President Tony Frank announced last week that the university plans to move forward with its proposal to build an on-campus stadium, Save Our Stadium: Hughes, a group that opposes the project, is still working to stop it.

About 40 community members and three CSU students attended a public forum Wednesday from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Westminster Presbyterian church to discuss what can be done to stop the plan.

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“Our objective is to formulate where to go from here,” said SOS founder Bob Vangermeersch. “Logic and facts and figures didn’t have any effect in influencing the decision. We need to reinvigorate and decide where to go from here.”

Many attendees felt the best way to stop construction of a new stadium is to hit the university where it hurts most –– its pocketbook. Ideas ranged from having potential stadium donors sign a pledge against giving money to CSU for the stadium to bringing a lawsuit against the university.

“We’ve tried everything,” said Deb James, a CSU alumna and 28-year Fort Collins resident. “The only power left is whether I’m going to give money.”

Even though Frank has given the green light to move forward, it’s still not too late to have the university change course, said sophomore art history major Dani Cole.

She said she’s never talked to a student who supported the stadium but at the same time feels some frustration that students aren’t doing more to voice their concerns.

“Students are few and far between that have the motivation to change,” Cole said. She added that if the on-campus stadium is built, it would mean tearing down the community gardens located next to the parking lot serving Summit Hall, Aspen Hall and Academic Village.

“The sustainable garden has been my home for the last two years” Cole said. “The thought of using it for a stadium kills me.”

James agreed that students need to be more involved and make their voice heard.

“No one’s going to refuse the students. They’re the future alumni,” James said. “If they alienate students they’re potentially shutting down future donors.”

One of the other student attendees, natural resources major Andrea Vanderbilt, started a student group that opposes the stadium. SOSCSU, an anti-stadium student group, has been meeting every Tuesday evening in the Lory Student Center.

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“We’ve been growing, it’s been great,” Vanderbilt said. “We’re planning an event, a big bar-b-que, for the next home game.”

Vangermeersch acknowledged that many people were probably “tired and burned out” from the nine-month-long fight but still felt that the group can influence the process moving forward. He questioned the university’s ability to raise $125 million in cash, calling donation pledges unreliable.

And even if those donations came through, the on-campus stadium would still be a bad idea, he said.

“As our speaker Maxcy said, ‘A lousy investment is a lousy investment, no matter who’s paying for it,” Vangermeersch said.

Rob Phillips, a Fort Collins native and business owner, had a unique approach to changing public opinion.

He registered Internet domain names that would have a high chance of directing people to the site, where they’d find a website opposing the stadium. A few of the website names: “CSUstadium.com” “Ramsstadium.com” and his favorite, “Firejackgraham.com”

“I was feeling a little ornery,” Phillips joked.

Senior Reporter Austin Briggs can be reached at news@collegian.com.