On-campus Stadium is Inevitable, Meets Community’s Needs

Jake Schwebach
Jake Schwebach

Jack Graham is gone, but contrary to community consensus, his on-campus stadium went up the moment he proposed it.

Tony Frank risked a well-liked reputation when he told media sources that a renovation to Hughes Stadium is the last resort. He emphasized that “the general fund is where the $30 million for Hughes will have to come from” and not in private donations.

Ad

Out-of-state sophomore Abby Etchepare is among the majority of students that believe, “a new stadium is unnecessary to begin with (and) a lost cause.” Two years of media hype, protests, endless construction and recent closed-door negotiations understandably riled-up the student body. The stadium seems “all for politics and publicity or else the people in charge would be listening to the vast majority of residents that do not want the stadium,” voiced an in-state student and fellow sophomore, Miranda Martin.

The University had a record year in private donations. The athletic department was second to the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Science which received over $42 million in private funds. It surpassed two other colleges by less than $2 million each.

Despite this, private stadium donations are only at $24.2 million ($40 million with verbal commitments). That’s $80 million less than the October 2013 goal.

The University will be well short again this October when the Stadium Advisory Committee, including student-elected Associated Student Association of CSU president, delivers its next feasibility report.

That donation money will go to the stadium. I bet my tuition that in October, they will continue to find avenues to raise funds. If it falls through, $30 million of our money will renovate Hughes stadium, also bound to anger students. Catch-22 for Frank. Local businesses won’t be happy if the stadium isn’t built, either. That doesn’t include future infrastructure: parking lots, garages, additions and landscaping.

The only thing I can’t confidently predict is how far Frank will take community push-back. Don’t get me wrong, the on-campus stadium will be built. It could be 2025. It could look nothing like the original plans. However, the “bold new era” is reigning and time eventually outruns presidents.

Jack Graham is ahead of his time. He is bold, charismatic and successful. Impatience toward a lofty goal, possibly a temper, is my guess for why he was fired. However, one can only speculate.

There is a reason Frank hired Graham. Foremost, Graham is a businessman and a grassroots one, at that. He even threw the pigskin for our good ‘ol stalwart rams. The University is growing- fast. College sports will become an open-market modeled after the NFL and NBA everyday. If you don’t believe that look up the name, “Jeffrey Kessler,” the Northwestern union, and current lawsuits against the NCAA.

In 2013, Colorado struck down Amendment 66 to raise $1 billion dollars in tax money for public education. Colorado was second-to-last in public education funds. Out-of-state tuition, private donations, and athletics are our main revenue streams.

The community of Fort Collins is in denial, to be blunt. I lived here my entire life and the small town appeal is swallowed in a bubble of sprawl. I am a 45 minute bike ride, 20 by car (I’m not a fast biker, okay?) from campus. I live well within city limits.

Ad

I don’t have a parking pass so I understand the frustration there. The only reason campus and Old Town are congested is because there’s nothing uniquely Fort Collins from East of Lemay all the way North to Loveland. It’s all sprawl.

The issue is a perceived violation of residential rights. The University has every right to build on their own property – theirs. Frank meets community concerns more than halfway: more like three quarters.

The stadium is a blip compared to the big picture. Whether it be a stadium, academic building, dormitory village, apartment or parking garage, the campus will grow alongside the residences at conflict.

CSU football is alive for the first time since Sonny Lubick, why not capitalize?

I will stand by the next statement as long as I’m a Ram. Tony Frank proved himself to act in the best interest of the student body and community time over time over time over time again. His emails to students brim with sincerity. Statements from Frank’s administration leave no reason to suspect dishonesty. Students erupt in applause at his picture on every stadium big-screen.

I’m not saying it’s ethically right or a moral obligation. In fact, I’m quite against those terms in general. The community benefits as a whole from the stadium given the current situation. Administration continues to proceed democratically.

For a town that prides itself on trails, bike lanes, and the new MAX Rapid Transit system, the push-back against an on-campus stadium is counterproductive. How many of those living near campus walk to Hughes Stadium? It’s not students grillin’ from pickups in that South lot. Traffic is redirected every game day all the way to Timberline and Drake.

Tony Frank knows where we’re coming from. I encourage you to walk a mile in his beard.

Collegian Columnist Jake Schwebach can be reached at letters@collegian.com.