With uniforms gleaming and instruments polished, the CSU marching band prepared to enter Folsom Field in Boulder.
No problems were expected for the day, with routines memorized and music fully practiced.
Nobody anticipated the problem that would occur before the band even reached the field, and it all happened so fast.
Four years ago, when the Rocky Mountain Showdown was held at Folsom Field in Boulder, the CSU marching band was misdirected onto the field through the CU student section.
Immediately before halftime, they were attacked by CU fans.
“I was hit in the side of the head with a ‘D’ battery thrown by a CU student,” said senior music major and former marching band percussionist Adam White.
“We were harassed by the fans. Students started throwing beer bottles, batteries and trash at us. It was a threatening atmosphere to be in.”
And the atmosphere will be an all-too-familiar experience for band members at next year’s Showdown, band players said.
CU athletic director Mike Bohn’s recent decision to move the annual game from Invesco Field in Denver back to Folsom Field for 2009 has many students, including CSU band members, concerned.
But the CU Police Department commander Brad Wiesley maintained the police’s dedication to the safety of all fans in Folsom Field. With 80 to 100 officers patrolling inside and outside the stadium, and a number of other security personnel in place monitoring activity, CUPD sys it does all it can to ensure the safety of Folsom’s guests.
“There are around 55,000 people that attend several games a year, and most come out without any incident,” he said. “The CU police are extremely hospitable to (the band),” Moore said. “They were terrific to us, as well as CU’s music department.”
Wind ensemble and marching band director J. Steven Moore said the 2004 misdirection was a serious, dangerous mistake when band members were hit repeatedly by fans as well.
Nobody was seriously injured, but it was not the first time CSU’s marching band was harassed by Boulder fans. This, and similar incidents, are cause for the band’s worry.
CSU athletic director Paul Kowalcyzk said he was “of course concerned about our students’ safety,” although he declined to comment further on safety at Folsom Field because he had not yet attended a game there on behalf of CSU.
Kowalcyzk also made clear that the relocation call was not CSU’s.
“Clearly that was CU’s decision to move the game to Boulder,” Kowalczyk said.
“We are disappointed because we believe that the game does belong in Denver long term, but, no matter what, we most certainly will go.”
He expects fans to follow suit.
“I fully expect our fans to attend and act with class and not appeal to the lowest common denominator,” he said.
“It’s important we present ourselves as a first class university and our students behave appropriately.”
Some CSU students, though, is not content with the game’s move to Boulder for 2009.
“Band members and CSU fans feel less safe in Boulder,” White said. “The band is a large, easy target. [CSU versus CU] is somewhat of a violent rivalry, and I do feel less safe at Folsom than Invesco.”
Though 3,000 seats can be issued to the rivalry team’s fans, according to the Showdown’s contract, Moore said CSU students avoid Folsom when the game is hosted there.
“I refuse to go to the game next year because of my past experiences at Folsom Field,” sophomore business major Stephanie Corder said.
“At a game in Folsom Field, a loved one was pushed down the stadium stairs by a CU fan. Seeing how CU fans treated others, it made me realize I didn’t want to go there.”
Bohn has expressed in the past that harassment complaints involving CU students reflect only a small percentage of the CU student body as a whole.
Moore said, though, that band members are more comfortable overall at Invesco Field because it is neutral territory.
“You want (the band’s) experience to be positive,” he said. “Having the game at Invesco was positive because it was a great college football atmosphere. The game is better played there, and the crowd is always good to the band. The roar our band gets at halftime is so loud that’s a memory you can’t recreate. It’s a memory that band members talk about forever.”
The Showdown will be held at Fort Collins’ Hughes Stadium in 2010, and a renewed game contract for future years has not yet been decided.
Though disappointed with CU’s decision to move the Showdown to Boulder, Moore continues to look forward to and prepare for 2009’s rematch.
“I hope we can create the same Invesco atmosphere at Hughes,” he said.
“And in Boulder, our fans shouldn’t boycott the game because boycotting leaves our band, cheerleaders and team over there alone. Let’s go buy out our tickets in Boulder. Let’s beat them in their own stadium.”
Staff Writer Kelley Bruce Robinson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.