After two consecutive three-point losses to the University of Colorado in Boulder, CSU's football team can expect to find more fans in the stands when they take on the Buffs this upcoming season.
The CSU and CU athletic departments announced a three-year agreement Wednesday that makes Denver the host of the next three contests between the in-state rivals. Invesco Field at Mile High, which has 76,125 seats, will serve as the location for the match-up.
This year's game will be held on Sept. 9, with kickoff time at 3 p.m. It will be broadcast on College Sports Television (CSTV). The 2007 and 2008 games will be held on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend.
The negotiations were an exhausting process and took several months, according to Gary Ozzello, who is CSU's Senior Associate Athletic Director. Ozzello believes one of the major advantages to having the game in Denver is the atmosphere it creates.
"I think if you ask any of the players or coaches, they will say they love the game in Denver because it has a bowl game atmosphere," Ozzello said.
One major difference between this next contest and the one held at Folsom Field last season is the amount of tickets available through the CSU athletic department. 10,000 tickets will be available to CSU students through the athletic department for the game in Denver, compared to the 2,000 that were available for the Boulder game.
Another difference is the price of the tickets for ram fans. CSU students had to pay $50 to get a ticket from CSU's athletic department last year. Tickets for this year's contest will be available for $15 to current students.
The game was played in Denver for six years from 1998 through 2003, with each team winning three of the contests. The 2003 contest drew the largest crowd ever to see a collegiate sporting event in the history of the state, with 76,219 fans on hand to see CU defeat CSU 42-35.
The last CSU victory over CU took place August 31, 2002 at Invesco when the Rams beat the Buffs, 19-14. The Rams were led by current Broncos Cecil Sapp, who rushed for two first-half touchdowns, and Bradlee Van Pelt, who scored the clinching touchdown on a 23-yard run.
The agreement was announced in conjunction with the Metro Denver Sports Commission (MDSC). According to their Web site, the MDSC is a non-profit organization set up five years ago that tries to bring economically benefitical sporting events to the Denver area.
Jon Schmieder, executive director of the MDSC, believes that events surrounding the games will make the match-up similar to a postseason contest.
"We see an opportunity to create a greater sense of community involvement by hosting several special events around the game," Schmieder said.
Community events that will be featured include a golf outing and coaches kickoff luncheon. Schmieder also announced that CU and CSU will have separate tailgate areas in the Invesco Field parking lot. Both teams will walk through their fans tailgating areas two hours before the start of the game.
While the current agreement runs out in 2008, the series has a promising future, according to Ozzello.
"The schools will definitely take a look at extending the series," Ozello said.
The athletic department also announced Wednesday the entire schedule for the upcoming football season. The season opener will be a home game against Division 1-AA opponent Weber State.
After the CU game, the Rams will head on the road to face two teams who appeared in bowls last season. The Nevada Wolfpack, which won the Hawaii Bowl, and the Fresno State Bulldogs, which lost in the Liberty Bowl, round out the Rams non-conference schedule.
Despite only five games in Fort Collins, the Rams have three other games within 135 miles of campus. In addition to the CU contest in Denver, the Rams will play conference games in Colorado Springs and Laramie against the Air Force Academy and the University of Wyoming.
Mike Donovan can be reached at email@example.com
2006 Colorado State Football Schedule
Sat., Sept. 2 – Weber State
Sat., Sept. 9 – Colorado (Denver)
Sat., Sept. 16 – at Nevada
Sat., Sept. 30 – at Fresno State
Sat., Oct. 7 – UNLV*
Thur., Oct. 12 – at Air Force*
Sat., Oct. 21 – at Wyoming*
Sat., Oct. 28 – New Mexico*
Sat., Nov. 4 – BYU*
Sat., Nov. 11 – at Utah*
Sat., Nov. 25 – TCU*
Sat., Dec. 2 – at San Diego State*
Times to be announced. * indicates conference game.