1969-70: The Rolling Stones, protests rock Moby Arena

Ravyn Cullor and Dorina Vida

Over its 150-year history, Colorado State University has seen triumphs and tribulations.

Hidden within archival photos and aging copies of The Collegian are stories of cultural movements, moments in history and the lives of students.

Ad

Moby Arena has seen some of CSU’s most notable historical moments. Below are just two of the events that took place in its halls and on its court.

The Rollings Stones rock Moby Arena

As Colorado State University nears the end of its 149th year, The Collegian looks back at some truly remarkable moments in the University’s past. One particular night of remembrance was Friday, Nov. 7, 1969, when The Rolling Stones played a concert at what was then called the Moby Gym.

According to archive staff, who aided The Collegian in obtaining information from CSU’s University Historic Photograph Collection, $35,000 were paid to have the British rock band come and play a single concert for the University. This concert also marked the opening night of one of the band’s many U.S. tours.

According to archive staff, the opening acts were Terry Reid and B. B. King. One review of the show said that B.B. King stole the show while The Rolling Stones were only average. A different reviews praised the Stones and said that King and his band were too commercialized. 

According to archive documents, the appearance of The Rolling Stones at CSU can be accredited to American rock concert promoter Barry Fey. Fey booked the band’s tour before he was able to get a venue in Denver, all of which were booked at the time. As such, Fey decided to approach the program director at CSU about renting out Moby Gym.

Not wanting to take any financial risks, CSU agreed as long as they received money from both rent and gate payment. The athletic department got $1,000 for rent and $5,000 from their cut of the gate receipts.

Fey received another bill following the performance from CSU, this time charging him $6000 for the extensive clean-up and damage repair required as a result of the concert.

The archives staff provided The Collegian with another document: an invoice calculating the cost of the damages done to Moby Gym. Damages included removing cigarette burns from the gym floor, costing a $2,200 refinishing fee; $3,000 going to replacing the floor tarp; and $600 in damages to doors, windows, paints and restrooms.

There was great contention over the disputed money.

Ad

Archive staff said there were months of legal negotiations that followed the presentation of the bill to Feyline Productions. The staff added it was generally said that a long-term distrust of the CSU administration was held by Barry Fey and other major concert promoters as a result of this.

According to archive staff, Fey said he would never bring another major band to CSU because of the way he and the band were treated by leaders in the athletic department. Other promoters have heard of his problems and shy away from CSU too.

The Rolling Stones mandated that no photographs be taken of the event, as such, The Collegian was unable to obtain any visuals from the concert.

1970 protest of BYU at basketball game leads to violence, 15 arrests

Protestors are standing at one end of the basketball court holding signs at the January 1970 demonstration against Brigham Young University in Moby Arena. One sign reads “end racism in WAC.” (Photo courtesy of University Historic Photograph Collection)

On Feb. 5, 1970, an unapproved peaceful protest at a Colorado State University versus Brigham Young University basketball game erupted into violence and led to the arrest of 15 protesters, according to CSU’s archive staff and archived copies of The Collegian.

The protest was in response to racist policies of the Mormon Church, which runs BYU, and followed a number of similar protests and game cancelations lead by San Jose State, according to a November 1969 Collegian article.

An Associated Students of CSU resolution asked the school to cancel the game with BYU, according to a Jan. 29, 1970 article. But Athletic Director Perry Moore declined to take action, stating that cancelation may lead to expulsion from play-offs.

“We here at CSU feel that since we are a state-owned school, believing in constitutional equality, we shouldn’t support a school that has racial discrimination,” said co-author of the resolution Pat Clisham.

According to Collegian articles, students from ASCSU, the Black Student Alliance and other groups tried to arrange a peaceful halftime protest with University administration twice, both times being told that the BYU Pom Pom Girls were already scheduled for half-time.

The night of the CSU vs. BYU games, the Pom Pom Girls were interrupted by 110 protesters, most of whom were reportedly Black, taking to the court, chanting and waving signs. A group of 20 Fort Collins Police Department officers was sent onto the court in helmets and body armor and armed with nightsticks to break up the protest, according to archives.

At this point the protest became violent, breaking into fights and resulting in a photographer from the Rocky Mountain News being knocked unconscious by a “large piece of iron” which was thrown onto the court. At one point, a flaming object was reportedly thrown onto the court, which caused no damage, and a number of slogans were scrawled on the floor in felt-tipped marker.

The crowd and police at the January 1970 demonstration against Brigham Young University in Moby Arena. (Photo courtesy of University Historic Photograph Collection)

The FCPD drove the protesters through the southeast doors of Moby Arena, some reported shoving and hitting the protesters and arresting eight demonstrations, all of whom were white and one of whom was a woman, according to the archives.

CSU President A.R. Chamberlin responded to the protest by banning signs from athletic events and demanding a further investigation into who participated in the protest.

“People attending athletic contests are guests of the University and are here for the purpose of enjoying the announced athletic event,” Chamberlin said in a Feb. 9, 1970 edition of The Collegian. “They are not here to partake or be subject to any demonstration.”

The investigation leads to a total of 15 arrests, some of which lead to convictions and sentences of 15-30 days in jail, according to the archives.

Ravyn Cullor and Dorina Vida can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @CSUCollegian.