Those new to CSU or unfamiliar with the in-state rivalry we hold with the University of Colorado-Boulder may be confused as to how Fort Collins is not hosting this week's Rocky Mountain Showdown. Last year's game was held in Boulder, and it seems a bit unbalanced to return the game to Folsom Field for a second consecutive opener. That is, until you examine things from the bottom line.
Folsom Field in Boulder holds 53,425 fans within a beautiful stadium located in the heart of CU's campus. While the home games usually only sell out when the Buffs are hosting a top opponent, even on a slow day, more fans show up at Folsom than Hughes Stadium can even hold. Herein lies the discrepancy between the two respective universities.
CSU makes a larger profit playing all of the Rocky Mountain Showdowns in Denver, where its own allotment of ticket sales provide more income than could ever be brought in from a home game in Fort Collins. CU doesn't face this issue. It makes a hefty sum hosting the game in Boulder and sees no reason to give its home game away to the city of Denver. CSU had to agree to give the Buffs two consecutive home dates in exchange for all of the previously held contests in Denver.
This is the sticking point on the current negotiations, which are threatening to derail this rivalry. Boulder is proud of its home turf and wants to use it to their advantage. CSU would rather play the game an hour away from home than in its own back yard. Of course as far as backyards go, ours is more of the weed infested, unwatered variety as opposed to that sweet St. Augustine grass that geriatrics tend to maintain so well.
Hughes Stadium is an eyesore located miles away from the heart of Fort Collins, as well as the CSU campus. The building can only hold approximately 34,400 fans depending on how tight they want to squeeze the students in. Unfortunately, this number is rarely reached unless the Rams are playing a legitimate opponent during a meaningful season.
Make no mistake, I love the Rams and I love to win, which is why it pains me so much to see our team and school's potential being squandered away on the foothills. If CSU wants to join the ranks of respectable football schools, then it needs to begin by building a respectable stadium.
Don't believe me? Take a look around the country. The best teams in the land not only occupy stadiums that dwarf ours, but regularly locate them within walking distance of the school's campuses.
I visited the University of Georgia in Athens this summer and the stadium was awe-inspiring. The thing was intimidating to witness empty, much less filled with 80,000 plus fans. A stadium and an atmosphere such as this is what draws and breeds rabid fan support both within the university as well as the community. If CSU wants to join the exclusive fraternity of the football elite, then it will have to change it's home field climate.