Feb 062012
Authors: Cris Tiller

Right now, CSU doesn’t have a well-defined identity to the outside world.

The CSU community can argue how great an academic institution we are with programs like the veterinary school, but the truth is, unless you want to be a veterinarian, you don’t care.

I know the College of Business is quickly becoming a strong element to the university’s “selling points” and there is the College of Engineering, but think about what you were like as an incoming freshman.

For the most part, a majority of recent high school graduates don’t know what they want to do. And let’s be honest, it’s not a great idea to bank on 18-year-olds knowing what they want to do with their lives.

So how do we create an identity that reaches a broader audience to draw in those young people?

The answer is a new football stadium, and not only a new stadium, but an on-campus stadium. CSU President Tony Frank and new Athletic Director Jack Graham believe this will help.

And they’re right.

Whether you’d like to believe it or not, our athletic program is the only way to truly reach a national audience on an extensive scale.

During Friday night’s On-campus Stadium Advisory Committee meeting, Frank asked the committee to “dream big.” He stressed that athletics, for better or worse, are a way for the outside world to perceive the worth of a university.

Graham has frequently referred to CSU as “a well-kept secret” — one he would like to get out to the world. Graham made it clear that this stadium isn’t just about winning football games like many of his detractors believe.

“It’s a blast to win football games, but that’s not the endgame,” Graham said Friday night. “It’s the means to an end.”

Graham gave five valid reasons as to why building an on-campus stadium is in the best interest for CSU.

Obvious reasons surrounded the football program, like building gameday traditions (something CSU needs terribly) and attracting quality coaches and players.

But he brought up reasons I hadn’t really considered and I doubt others have as well.

An on-campus stadium can help the Fort Collins community just as much as it can help the university. Right now Hughes Stadium sits on the edges of town with literally nothing around it but houses and foothills. People show up maybe to tailgate, watch the game and then they go home.

There are no businesses or any incentive to stick around after the game. An on-campus stadium puts fans right smack in the middle of town with Old Town a short walk or drive away. People can go out before the game, go to the game and go back out after.

Think of all the extra business that could be done with 50,000 to 60,000 people in the same area. Graham forecasted the earnings to be around $6 million annually based on research done at similar schools with on-campus stadiums.

Finally, don’t limit the stadium to just football. Think of Hughes now. We play six home games a year and for the other 359 days it sits dormant.

A new stadium can host other sporting events, concerts or a number of other uses. Our new stadium can be a “landmark gathering place” as Graham put it, similar to Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisc.

He had several grand ideas like putting in an Apple store or a Starbucks and even proposed the idea of using luxury boxes like condos, which is how South Carolina uses its on-campus stadium.

The point is, an on-campus stadium presents far more options than a place to host football games. So doesn’t a little extra noise one night a week for a few months and slightly heavier traffic seem like a small price to pay?

Like Frank urged the committee, I urge you, “Don’t forget to dream big.”

Sports Editor Cris Tiller can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

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