New stadium vs. student safety

Haleigh McGill

Haleigh McGill
Haleigh McGill

Not only does the construction of a new stadium cause us to wonder about big-picture concerns, such as pollution from construction, space limitations and the debate about what is actually wrong with Hughes Stadium, but it also brings up more specific questions regarding tailgating traditions and how putting a stadium on campus that serves alcohol parallels with our school’s “dry campus” reputation.

During a Collegian editorial board interview with Tony Frank last Tuesday, Frank spoke very generally about these smaller but really important aspects of the new stadium’s construction.

Ad

“There are a lot of those things I’m confident will work out between now and September 2017 … Because virtually every major university in the country has an on-campus stadium and figures these things out,” Frank said.

Although Frank’s plan includes observations from other on-campus stadiums’ flow and functionality to contribute to the success of this project, this is not an ideal situation in which to leave these things for time to work out on its own. I think that with a project of this size, especially considering its future impact on both the Colorado State University and Fort Collins communities, it is important to consider all potential concerns and complications early on with risk management-like procedures to fall back on if something does not go according to plan. It is important because the current plan to build two parking garages for the stadium would complicate tailgating, and ultimately that affects the safety of students, faculty, alumni and visitors who attend games.

Frank recalled the Alcohol Task Force that was in place at Hughes Stadium in 2002, and said their conclusion was that limiting the amount of beer an attendee can consume and emphasizing education was going to be more effective in reducing alcohol-related incidents than imparting dry stadium policies.

“At this point, we’re anticipating that the [new] stadium will follow the policies of the current stadium,” Frank said.

As if having an on-campus bar and the option of a degree in fermentation did not diminish the University’s “dry campus” policy, serving alcohol at an on-campus stadium surely would.

“Let’s educate people,” Frank said. “Let’s make smart choices about alcohol. People are going to be adults within a society that has alcohol available.”

According to the University’s webpage regarding the new stadium, there will be “expanded tailgating options,” but what exactly does that mean? Tailgating at Hughes Stadium on a ground-level parking lot is a lot safer and more convenient than trying to tailgate in a multi-floor parking garage. Drinking at rowdy, exciting sporting events already has a well-known set of risks, and the idea of tailgating in the new parking garages poses a whole other set of its own. Most of these risks arise from mixing the flow of traffic through parking garages with potentially intoxicated game-goers, but other risks are as extreme as someone accidentally stumbling off the top level and facing serious injury or death.

Tailgating culture brings people together at major games here, allowing students, alumni, parents, faculty and visitors to connect with each other and to the University. Anyone can join in on the tailgate and the school spirit, even if you are not allowed to drink yet or choose not to. We have to accommodate for it in order to provide those who partake with a safer environment in which to celebrate the event and CSU’s athletes. When you add the factor of alcohol consumption during the game on top of that, the solution becomes even more crucial to the new stadium’s plan.

Student safety is integral to the college experience, whether students live on or off campus. Before any more progress is made with the new stadium project, all these smaller considerations must be taken into account along with the bigger issues to ensure that everything goes smoothly from the first time the Rams rush the new field. We cannot just wait for something to go wrong to realize that plans and backups are necessary.

Collegian Columnist Haleigh McGill can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @HaleighMcGill.

Ad