Stadium design to unite athletics, academics, alumni

Christina Vessa

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 Colorado State University. (Photo courtesy: Populous)

Fences blocking the torn-up remains of three parking lots on the corner of Meridian Avenue and West Lake Street may represent the beginning of a new era for Colorado State University. The new $238.5 million on-campus stadium will join athletics, academics and alumni all under one roof.

With site preparation advancing, the final design of the stadium will continue to unfold as the fall semester nears. The stadium capacity is expected to hold 41,000 fans. On the visiting side of the stadium, the student section will wrap the lower sideline and a portion of the end zone.

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“Students drive the atmosphere for everything during game day,” CSU Athletics Director Joe Parker said. “I think that will help us really achieve a strong competitive advantage as far as home field advantage. We imagine (the student section) will be a very loud, vocal supporter of our team, influencing and having an impact on the visiting team experience.”

A ceremonial groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for Sept. 12, accompanying a home game at Hughes Stadium against Minnesota. While preliminary site construction continues throughout the summer, Parker said stadium designs will change throughout the construction process.

“Regardless of budget, every project always has ‘add alternatives’ that get added into the project as bidding contingencies and construction variables are realized,” Parker said. “The final design will be something we and our fans will be very excited about, and it will be a facility that will serve as a tremendous engagement for the University and the community.”

Although bond financing has yet to be sold for the $18.5 million addition of an alumni and academic center, designs for the 82,000-square-foot space will incorporate classrooms, conference rooms and a heritage hall, according to Vice President for University Advancement Brett Anderson. He said a new alumni center is needed to demonstrate the history and glory of CSU.

“We have been trying to build an alumni center going back over a decade ago,” Anderson said. “(This) was the opportune time of utilizing the infrastructure and utilities built into the stadium.”

Financing for the academic and alumni center will be included in the $180.4 million bond sale containing payment for the new health center, biology building, relocation of the Plant Environmental Research Center and additional parking lots. The CSU Alumni Association will be financing interest payments on the $5 million alumni center. Repayments on the academic portion will be paid through the general fund.

Parker has worked with athletics at five universities around the country, and has previous experience being on staff during three separate multi-million dollar stadium projects at Michigan, Texas and Oklahoma.

“The fact that we are bringing it back to campus will play a significant role in building a tighter connection to our current students and our alumni base,” Parker said. “It truly is a multi-purpose facility. It is nice to be in proximity to the academic core of the institution so that the space can be developed and have great value to the academic program that takes place on our campus.”

Parker said there has already been support for the stadium through major gifts.

“We are going to have multiple efforts within the stadium where there is the ability for the University to interact and host people that are alumni and have the capacity to support all interests of campus,” Parker said.

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The name of the stadium has yet to be determined, and might not be for another two years. Parker said CSU has time to engage existing and potential partners interest with naming rights.

“We have the opportunity to engage in dialogue with our existing partners to determine their level of interest,” Parker said. “Then the process expands to those who may not already be engaged who may have interest. It is exciting to go through that process and learn how much interest there is in this opportunity.”

Collegian Reporter Christina Vessa can be reached online at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @ChrissyVessa.