Apr 122012
Authors: Andrew Carrera

The battle over whether to build an on-campus stadium has raged for months. But today, it’ll see something it hasn’t before.

David Ridpath, a CSU alum and an assistant professor of sports administration at Ohio University, will systematically debunk each of the five reasons to build an on-campus stadium that university officials have cited at nearly every turn of the heated community debate.

His presentation will start at 7 p.m. and take place in the Lory Student Center North Ballroom.

“I want to be able to present information that will help make the best possible decision,” Ridpath said. “We have to move very slow, deliberate and cautious on this, but I think we also have to be realistic about where the college athletics landscape is going, and where Colorado State fits into that.”

Ridpath, who holds a doctorate in higher education administration, came after being invited by Save Our Stadium Hughes and a similar CSU student organization, Save Our Stadium CSU. The two groups hope to use the event to inject outside expert analysis into the on-campus stadium discussion.

“We want to say to the people on the fence who are saying, gosh, show us some data, show us some facts, and that’s what we’re tying to do tomorrow,” said Bob Vangermeersch, the founder of Save Our Stadium Hughes.

Supporters of the proposal have mainly argued that it will push CSU athletics –– especially its football team –– into the top-20 programs in the nation. Once that happens, the university will see a spike in applications, donations and an overall improvement in its academics.

It’s a sunny vision of the future that not everyone thinks will come to pass. And while those individuals have mostly been Fort Collins residents, it now also includes Ridpath.

“I used to think all these things. So I’m not coming from left field. I come from the business. I used to study intercollegiate athletics … but I went out and sought answers and started to find out that the data doesn’t back up these claims,” he said. “but there’s a lot of universities … that have done the same thing and are not seeing the return on investment.

“We shouldn’t sell as something that’s going to do something that it’s likely not.”

The event also marks the latest installment of moves S.O.S. Hughes has made to burnish their organization as a serious opposition group. Before, they’ve held meetings where like-minded residents show up and voice their concerns in locations around Fort Collins. Now, they’re on campus and packing expert insight into their agendas.

“Now all of the sudden, this is kind of our coming out party,” said Deb James, a spokeswoman for S.O.S. Hughes. “We’ve showed up. We’re on the scene.”

Senior Reporter Andrew Carrera can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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