CSU presents arguments for, against on-campus stadium

Colorado State University on Wednesday distributed a detailed list of the arguments for and against the possible construction of an on-campus stadium in a presentation to the Northern Colorado Commercial Association of Realtors.

The presentation addressed many of the points of controversy involved with the stadium debate, including the potential impact on CSU funding and affordability, the funding of the stadium itself and the impact on academics.

CSU Athletic Director Jack Graham also told NCCAR members today that $700,000 has been donated thus far, and that the money is being used to fund the stadium advisory process. Here are the arguments and responses listed in the presentation:

Issue: Impact on alumni connection

Argument for: The new on-campus stadium will more strongly connect alumni to the university by bringing the m to campus when they visit for football games. The excitement, increased support and improved game day experience will strengthen both student and alumni connection to CSU.

Argument against: Opponents questions whether a new stadium could have such impacts. In addition, they question whether it is appropriate that athletics be relied upon as such a critical means of connecting to alumni.

Issue: Impact on football team and national profile

Argument for: A new on-campus stadium will reinvigorate the program, attract better coaches and players and ultimately improve the team. An improved team will garner increased national attention, increasing the profile of CSU as a university since athletics are often a window to the university. The new stadium would serve as a symbol of a bold new era of CSU athletics that students, fans and alumni will rally around.

Argument against: The impact of a new stadium on the quality of the football is unclear. It is seen as only one potential factor among many, and one with significant costs and risks. Fort Collins-CSU is not a big football community like other big name programs. Alternatively, these end points could potentially be accomplished without a new stadium.

Issue: Impact on CSU funding and affordability

Argument for: Increased alumni connections, national profile, attendance and community support will result in increased funds for CSU, which is a critical needs in a time of decreasing public funding for higher education and increasing cost of tuition. The goal is to become more self-sustaining and remain affordable.

Argument against: The financial impact of a new stadium is unclear and unpredictable. Many athletic departments at major institutions are not operation at a profit and chasing athletic success may backfire.

Issue: Community Impacts

Argument for: Traffic and parking issues can be lessened through engineering and design, including the new Mason Street corridor. An improved athletics program and the availability of a high quality multi-use facility may also bring the community together and serve as an important gathering place for Fort Collins.

Argument against: A new stadium will cause many problems in terms of traffic, parking, noise, crime and trash, which will harm the CSU-community relationship. The neighborhood around Hughes may laso be negatively affected by the stadium no longer being used.

Issue: Utilizing Hughes to achieve these new goals

Argument for: The on-main campus nature of the proposal is a critical aspect, particularly for alumni engagement and for getting people on campus for game days. The prospect of a new stadium has energized people, and improving Hughes would not garner nearly as much excitement, support or donations.

Argument against: The goals of a revitalized athletic department expressed by supporters can be achieved at Hughes Stadium at much less cost, particularly if resources are used to improve the stadium and the game day experience there. Having 40,000 people on campus for games will cause problems as well.

Issue: Funding of stadium

Argument for: The stadium would be build with donor funds, not state funds or student fees. The just completed campaign raised over $500 million for campus and academics, and long-term, athletic success that strongly ties alumni to the school will positively impact the university beyond athletics.

Argument against: CSU should focus resources on academics, not sports. Faculty and students need more support. Even if primarily funded by private donors, time and effort is still spent on raising the funds for athletics, and those donors could be convinced to support academics. ongoing costs or overruns will ultimately fall to the students or university to cover. Spending on sports during an economic downturn seems inappropriate.

Issue: Appropriate role of athletics at a university

Argument for: Athletics are a big part of university identity an how alumni connect. Even if this is not ideal, it is reality for many. CSU is academically excellent, but unknown nationally. Athletics is an important window to the university to change that.

Argument against: Athletics should not be a central aspect of university identity. CSU shouldn’t follow inappropriate national trends. CSU should focus on academics and its land grant mission, not entertainment and spectacle.

Issue: Environmental impact/message

Argument for: The stadium could be built LEED certified and serve as a symbol of sustainability. New facilities today are often constructed with significant environmental improvements over other facilities.

Argument against: A new stadium is not necessary, would have a significant carbon footprint and sends a bad message about sustainability, particularly for our “Green University”.

Issue: Quality of new facility

Argument for: A new stadium can be a centerpiece, jewel and a place for students, community and alumni to gather.

Argument against: Stadiums are large, ugly, expensive concrete buildings that sit empty most of the time.

Issue: Location

Argument for: Ideally, a location will be identified that would minimize these impacts. The building can be designed to include student housing or academic functions, and be visually attractive and a landmark for the school and community.

Argument against: There is not suitable location on campus. Space will be needed later for academic buildings or student housing.

Issue: Impact on academics and core mission

Argument for: Success in athletics supports academics. A strong athletic program increases student pride in university, which increases retention. More national exposure can also lead to increased applications and thus, student quality. A successful athletic program can bring in funding through multiple sources, helping keep tuition down and faculty and staff salaries competitive.

Argument against: Athletics distracts from academics. Athletics is not a core function of the university. Many programs are not financially successful, and critics argue that college sports are out of control, with arms races developing for coaches’ salaries and facilities. Sports can adversely impact academic performance, as more athletic events impose on the academic calendar.

Issue: Multi-function facility

Argument for: An on-main campus stadium could serve multiple functions to enhance the campus and student experiences, serving as a key community gathering place, housing the Alumni Association, including residence halls, stores, classrooms and more.

Argument against: More events mean more traffic and related problems. For some in the community, the image of a stadium as a key gathering place was not seen as positive.

Issue: Current state of Hughes Stadium

Argument for: Hughes is lacking, growing obsolete, disconnected from campus and the business community and only used for a small number of football games.

Argument against: Hughes is sufficient, recently renovated, and could be renovated again. It is in a beautiful setting with plenty of space, which allows for tailgating. If a new stadium is built, it is unclear what would happen with Hughes. It could become an abandoned.

Issue: Athletic conference issues

Argument for: CSU may get left behind in conference realignment, and a new conference could translate into a higher profile and more funding, particularly from television revenues. A largest stadium and stronger program may be necessary, however.

Argument against: A new stadium does not guarantee a move up in conference affiliation. Getting left behind is not necessarily bad, and it may be unlikely to be invited to a better conference.

Issue: Student attendance

Argument for: More students will attend games because they will be able to walk and the game day experience will be enhanced. Increased attendance in turn increases the home field advantage and increases the student connection to CSU.

Argument against: Students tickets are currently part of student fees, and a new stadium may necessitate an increase in ticket prices. Students are also concerned that an on-campus stadium would bar alcohol. The effort required to go to Hughes is not significant, and buses are being provided. Moby rarely fills for other sports despite being on-campus. Students want a winning program, on-campus or not.

Issue: Impact on other CSU sports

Argument for: Success in football will lead to increased revenue for and attention to the other sports. At many universities, success in football and basketball provides funding for non-revenue generating sports. Other sports could also utilize the facility.

Argument against: A new stadium would be too focused on football. CSU has many sports, including successful programs like volleyball. Getting involved in the “arms face” in football may increase costs to the point of not being able to support other sports.

Issue: Impact on Fort Collins economy

Argument for: The new stadium, renewed excitement and increased alumni relationships would lead to higher attendance and out of town visitors. In addition, fans will spend additional dollars in Fort Collins due in part to closer proximity to Old Town.

Argument against: The impact of new stadiums on local economies is unclear, particularly if crowds keep others from downtown on game says. For some, additional growth to Fort Collins is not seen as a positive.

Issue: Game day experience

Argument for: A new stadium would provide a better game day experience both inside and around the stadium, and lead to new traditions.

Argument against: A new stadium would not necessarily lead to a better game day experience, especially if tailgating is limited and alcohol is not allowed. Efforts could be made to significantly improve the game day experience at Hughes.

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Molly Armbrister covers real estate, banking and health care for the Northern Colorado Business Report. She can be reached at 970-232-3139, marmbrister@ncbr.com or twitter.com/MArmbristerNCBR

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