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Board of Governors authorizes $242M finance plan for stadium

Colorado State University President Tony Frank received authorization from the Board of Governors for a $242 million plan to finance the new on-campus stadium Thursday at the CSU Global Campus in Greenwood Village. The board voted eight to one in favor of the plan, with Treasurer Joe Zimlich in opposition.

The new on-campus stadium will be built on West Lake Street and Meridian Avenue, with a capacity of 40,000 spectators. It is set to host all home football games beginning with the 2017 season, according to Amy Parsons, vice president for university operations.

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CSU System CFO Rich Schweigert said that Standard & Poor warned of a possible downgrade of current bond ratings. He said that the market is at a historic low, and the University could not have timed this project better.

There is roughly $800 million in the payment profile for CSU’s current debt outstanding, according to Stephanie Chichester, a member of the financing team. She said that the bond market today provides the lowest interest rates, taxable and tax exempt, than has ever been seen.

Chichester said that the 40 year repayment term and principle payments will begin after the stadium opens, on the fifth anniversary of the bond financing. The total cost of the stadium will be $451 million.

The first six month interest payment will be made March 1, 2018. She said that all revenue received by that date will be in a repayment fund  to reduce the possibility of a general fund hit.

A rendering of the on-campus stadium at CSU, which is expected to break ground in summer 2015.
A rendering of the on-campus stadium at CSU, which is expected to break ground in summer 2015.

Timeline:

Plans for CSU’s new on-campus stadium have changed over the past few years. In December 2011, Jack Graham was hired as the athletic director, along with the start of a movement for an on-campus stadium which would be fundraised partly through $100 million in donations.

By January 2014, $40 million was reportedly raised for the stadium, and Graham was fired in August of that year.

Frank proposed four options for funding a football stadium in October 2014. Two options highlighted maintenance and renovation of Hughes, while the other two options called for either a $225 million private-public partnership or almost $200 million in bond funding.

Frank received authorization to continue with a plan Dec. 5 for $220 million in bond financing. The Board of Governors voted 8-0 in favor, with one abstention from Zimlich, who was concerned about cost of the stadium.

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The state Legislature’s Capital Development Committee voted Jan. 26 in an approval five to one of Frank’s plan to borrow $220 million in revenue bonds for the construction of an on-campus stadium. Sen. John Kefalas of Fort Collins voted in disagreement over concerns of the University’s increasing debt.

Collegian Assistant News Editor Christina Vessa can be reached online at news@collegian.com or on Twitter at @chrissyvessa

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