Rushing to judgment: CSU stadium foes

Will building a new football stadium at CSU help boost our local economy? The naysayers don’t think so. They’re also doubtful that a new stadium will help CSU attract better coaches and athletes. And they’re not convinced that more out-of-state students, those who pay higher tuitions, will flock to the university if only it builds a new stadium.

Who’s right? Who’s wrong?

It barely matters. Here’s why:

CSU, if it goes through with this idea, plans to do so with private donations, not tax dollars.

CSU?has said this repeatedly. Regardless of how hard opponents will try, any effort to frame this as a frivolous, ill-conceived diversion of public dollars from academics is simply dishonest.

Some in the opposition obviously have come to understand this, because they appear in recent days to have embraced a new message, one that shifts the focus to saving Hughes Stadium rather than merely berating the supposedly anti-intellectual crowd as favoring the gridiron over the Classics.

That’s a PR ploy that might resonate in some quarters, but it would have worked far better if this community, in fact, felt any deep, emotional connection to Hughes.

How close-minded is the opposition?

The 15-member Colorado State University Stadium Advisory Committee held its inaugural meeting earlier this month. A reporter quoted a woman who identified herself as a member of the anti-stadium forces suggesting that the new facility seems out of scale to Fort Collins.

How would they know?

We haven’t seen any architectural drawing. No artist rendering has been rendered. The conversation on this project has barely begun. Raising questions that pit academics against athletics is to be expected in debates about university stadiums. But raising questions about scale unnecessarily discredit the opposition.

CSU on Feb. 3 reminded us all that it knows how to pull off big-money initiatives. That’s when it announced it had completed its $500-million, seven-year fundraising campaign, raising nearly $10 million more than its goal and crossing the finish line six months ahead of schedule.

It deserves big kudos for doing so. Those dollars have been spent or committed to creating new department chairs, new classrooms and new scholarships. In other words, those are dollars that will all be spent building CSU’s academic profile and reputation.

If there’s any reason to be concerned about the university’s ambitions to build a new stadium, it’s in how donors react to being asked for money again so soon after writing a check for the big campaign.

But even that concern doesn’t really amount to much.

If you’re an alum, a fan or a parent with the wherewithal, you’ll happily write a check to an initiative that helps a university you love.

Doing so might not help the local economy much. It might not help lure better coaches or better players. But it will give the university – and Fort Collins – a chance at some of those things.

CSU is without a doubt an economic growth engine. Could it become a football powerhouse? Maybe, maybe not. But if it does, then we’ll have one more item to point to with pride and, in this case, the university will have achieved this milestone without a single extra tax dollar than it now receives.

Seems like a pretty good deal to me.

Allen Greenberg is the editor of the Northern Colorado Business Report. He can be reached at or 970-232-3142.

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