Hughes Stadium and CSU’s athletic facilities will undergo major improvements, but nothing will be completed during football’s regular season.
The Bohemian Foundation, a non-profit community organization, donated $20.1 million to CSU on May 14, with $15.2 million going to the athletic department. Presented by Pat Stryker, president of the Bohemian Foundation, it was the largest donation in school history.
CSU is using the athletic money to expand the stadium capacity by 18 percent at Hughes, install artificial synthetic turf surfaces at Hughes and the practice facility on campus and install two scoreboards and one video board and improve the amenities in and around Hughes, according to an athletic department release.
“It really sparked a lot of interest and sparked a lot of energy into the program,” said Doug Max, assistant athletic director in charge of facilities.
However, the only part of the project scheduled for this year is the installation of the practice field, which is scheduled for October. Max said time was needed to draw up plans, contract companies and gain approval from the Colorado Commission for Higher Education and The Board of Governors of the Colorado State University System.
“We couldn’t get it done in time,” Max said. “It wasn’t feasible to get done.”
If weather permits, Max said the artificial surface on the practice field would be ready for postseason use if the football team goes to a bowl game. The field will be a synthetic surface that is made to look and feel like grass, but has a rubber or sand combination underneath that drains the field quickly and is more durable to wear and tear.
“The new turf they’re going to throw out there is going to help out with probably pulls, strains and what not,” said Dexter Wynn, senior cornerback and return specialist.
Wynn, who is recovering from a hamstring injury, said the new surface on the practice field would make it easier to make cuts, causing fewer injuries.
Max said CSU is in the process of deciding between about 30 turf companies that bid to install the field. No plans to the type of field that would be installed at Hughes have been made, but he said it is likely to be similar to the practice field.
The rest of the improvements that came from the donation are scheduled to happen in 2004 or 2005. After this season is completed, the new scoreboards and video board are scheduled for installation. They will replace the scoreboards that have been in place since 1995, Max said.
Design companies Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum and Aller-Lingle will begin construction on new permanent seating behind the north end zone during the fall of 2004. The stadium capacity will increase from 30,000 to 35,400. New concession stands and bathrooms will also be constructed on the north concourse.
“We’ll probably get some more home games, some better teams for home games,” said sophomore quarterback Justin Holland. “From the way it looks like, it’s going to be a really nice stadium and that’s what Colorado State deserves.”
Improvements to club level seating and the press box will be made after the 2004 season. Sixteen suites for major donors will also be installed.
The only stipulation Stryker had in donating the money was that the new facility include the renaming of the playing field to Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium. The new field is scheduled for installation after completion of the new seating, Max said.
Holland applauded naming the new field after Lubick.
“He’s totally changed what people think about the CSU program,” Holland said. “I couldn’t think of anything better to call it.”
Lubick is excited about how the money will help the football program.
“I think it will help us immensely,” Lubick said.
Timeline for improvements
2003: – Synthetic practice field is scheduled to be installed during October and
November in time for practice for any bowl game.
2004: – Two scoreboards and one video board scheduled to be installed for the 2004 season.
– Construction begins on an 18 percent increase in stadium capacity to be installed in the north end zone. The construction is expected to last more than a year. New bathrooms and concessions will be added to the north concourse.
2004-2005: – A new playing surface at Hughes is scheduled for installation after completion of the new seating.
2005: – Improvements to the Rams Horn club level and the press box are scheduled
after the 2004 season. Sixteen suites for major donors are also in the plan.