Strive for a multi-use stadium at CSU

grabowskiMugHughes Stadium hosted two events Saturday after standing empty and being battered by the elements for five months.

The football team’s spring game at noon attracted an announced crowd of 3,000.

Nearly 4,000 people showed up at 5:30 to watch CSU play CU in the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse conference.

That’s 7,000 more people than had entered the stadium in nearly half a year.

For such a valuable piece of real estate, that seems ridiculous.

Hughes cost $3 million to build initially, and underwent a $15.2 million renovation in 2005.

All that money for just six football games per year.

Moby Arena, on the other hand, hosts nearly 50 athletic events per year among the basketball and volleyball teams while providing space for concerts, conventions and speakers.

In my time at CSU, Ludacris, a cops convention and Condeleeza Rice appeared in Moby.

Just football at Hughes during that same time frame — until Saturday of course.

My writer and I pulled into the parking lot to cover the game, and it looked like a football game crowd but on a smaller scale.

Kids threw lacrosse balls back and forth. Fans heckled the other teams’ supporters. People tailgated.

We went into the stadium to a decent crowd that had already assembled and didn’t seem to mind the post-spring football game trash that hadn’t been cleaned up.

Fans kept piling into the stadium even after the game had officially started.

It amazed me that so many people cared about these two teams and were willing to make the trip out to Hughes to watch the game.

Then I realized they did it because they were given the opportunity. Club sports fans care just as much about their team as Division-I fans do, and when the moment calls for it, they deserve the opportunity to watch their team on a larger stage.

If the space is open, why not allow them to use the facilities available to them, rather than hoping for a spot on the Intramural Fields?

For most events, Hughes simply can’t accommodate them. The field isn’t big enough for soccer or rugby, and the stadium lacks any sort of reception or banquet room for weddings or events.

Renovations to resolve these issues have taken a backseat to conversations about building an on-campus stadium in the last year.

They should.

Hughes has reached its last legs. The concrete and steel construction makes it feel more like a bomb shelter than a football stadium.

Parking is cramped and it takes forever to leave after the game. If you even waited for the clock to hit zeroes.

People flee Hughes at halftime like their seats are on fire regardless of the score.

They clearly don’t care about the team and feel no connection to the venue they play in.

Neither of those bode well for a program and athletics department trying to establish themselves on the national scene as much as possible.

The proposed on-campus stadium would at least give people a shot in the arm.

Yes, it would mean more construction on campus and all of its wonderful side effects, but in the long term it’s what will be best for not only CSU’s sports teams, but campus as a whole.

I’ve heard a lot of people say, “Our football team sucks, why are they building them a new stadium?”

The new stadium wouldn’t be for the football team. It’d be for everyone else.

CSU’s new women’s soccer team will have to play its games nearly nine miles away at the Fort Collins soccer complex when it begins operations next year.

Club soccer, rugby and both lacrosse teams could host major events at the stadium when it’s not busy with football games, weddings, banquets or all manner of events it would be capable of.

It’s a bold plan that hinges on fundraising at the moment, but it’s certainly better than a ghostly slab of concrete sitting empty for 10 months out of the year.