On our ballots: Hughes Stadium ordinance

Natalie Weiland

graphic illustration of horsetooth rock with filled out ballots floating in the wind above
(Graphic illustration by Abby Flitton | The Collegian)

A proposed City ordinance up for a vote during the April 6 election would compel the City of Fort Collins to attempt to purchase the land that formerly housed Hughes Stadium in order to zone the land as open space. 

Hughes Stadium was vacated in 2016 when the CSU football team moved to Canvas Stadium and was demolished in 2018. 

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CSU, in conjunction with Lennar Corporation, a property development company, has developed a plan to turn the space into an affordable housing community for CSU faculty and staff. The University’s plans also include a transit center and will reserve a portion of the land as open space for residents of Fort Collins to enjoy. 

If passed, the citizen-initiated ordinance would require the City to attempt to purchase the former Hughes Stadium property and reserve the area as a natural open space.

We have a really unique opportunity to use land-grant University land for the public good and for the benefit of everyone in the community, not a select few.” -Sarah Rossiter, PATHS representative

Brett Anderson, special assistant to the CSU system chancellor, said that CSU’s plan addresses both the need for housing and the desire among residents for an open space area. 

“Nearly 50% of the land we will keep as undeveloped open space,” Anderson said. “We don’t think solutions in Fort Collins have to be ‘either/or;’ we think solutions can be ‘and.’ We think those are the best solutions.” 

Some Fort Collins residents, however, argue that all of the land should be converted into open space, rather than just a small portion within the proposed housing community. Local groups such as Planning Action to Transform Hughes Sustainably have organized to advocate for the use of the land as a fully open, 164.5-acre space. 

Sarah Rossiter, PATHS representative, said that this area is a vital part of the Fort Collins identity and should be preserved for “the public good.” 

Further, she says the area holds a great deal of ecological significance.

“We have a really unique opportunity to use land-grant University land for the public good and for the benefit of everyone in the community, not a select few,” Rossiter said. 

The text of the citizen-initiated ordinance directs the City of Fort Collins to “acquire the property at its fair market value,” which currently sits at $10 million. The area will be rezoned as “public open lands” immediately upon passage of the ordinance, according to the ballot text. 

A “yes” vote would favor the effort to buy and zone the Hughes lot as public open space, and a “no” vote would oppose this effort. 

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Natalie Weiland can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @natgweiland