Total cost for potential CSU stadium: $246 million

FORT COLLINS – An on-campus stadium for CSU would come with a $246 million price tag, according to estimates released Wednesday night by stadium designer Populous.

Populous presented its findings to a group of about 250 who gathered in the Lory Student Center on CSU’s campus to hear the findings of the stadium advisory committee after five months of work.

Populous representatives presented what CSU Athletic Director Jack Graham called a “strong preliminary conceptual design.”

Renderings produced by Populous show the stadium sitting atop an already-discussed site, along Whitcomb Street between Lake and Pitkin streets. The facility would include 42,806 seats, along with many amenities.

The committee had been expected to make a recommendation to CSU President Tony Frank about whether to move forward with the stadium at Wednesday’s meeting. Instead, it presented its findings, leaving the question to Frank to decide.

Here’s what each of the committee’s four subcommittee said about the feasibility of an on-campus stadium.

Design and Best Practices

The findings of this subcommittee include the details already mentioned here regarding the cost and structure of the facility. Its report also included details about the feel of the stadium and how the architects went about drawing up their preliminary plans.

Populous took into consideration Horsetooth Rock and the mountains to the west of Fort Collins in designing the stadium, which is meant to be an integrated part of campus and represent Colorado, not just CSU.

The stadium appeared in renderings to be horseshoe-shaped, and oriented north to south. The plans also include a pedestrian walkway through campus that would end up at the stadium.

Amenities beyond a football field and bench seating are planned, with a variety of club and premium seating to help generate revenue. In addition, the field could be used for other sports, such as lacrosse, soccer and rugby.

Elsewhere in the stadium, Populous envisions space for class and meeting rooms, a recruit lounge, an alumni welcome center and a bookstore and merchandise shop, among other extras.

The potential stadium also looks like a contender for LEED Gold certification. Sixty points are required by the U.S. Green Building Council to achieve LEED Gold, and the stadium designs rack up 58 points, with the potential for 24 more.

CSU’s Institute for the Built Environment could help Populous identify more ways to build a more environmentally friendly stadium, according to Amy Parsons, CSU vice president for University Operations.

The total price tag for the facility, $246 million, includes a 5 percent contingency allowance.

The figure is much higher than the $100 to $200 million price range initially stated by Graham, but that figure was based upon a stadium built for Stanford University, Graham said, and the product that CSU could potentially build will be of a higher caliber than that project.

If built, the stadium will not be over-the-top, Graham said.

“We’re not looking for excess, we’re looking for quality,” he said. Graham estimated that the Design and Best Practices Subcommittee would meet again over the summer, prior to a mid-August final report date.

Site Selection

Most of the work for this subcommittee is finished, according to Parsons, the facilitator of the subcommittee.

Several different sites were held up as potentials, but “Site C,” on Whitcomb Street between Pitkin and Lake streets, has been the frontrunner, with Populous drawing up renderings and basing preliminary designs on that location.

In the coming months, the site selection subcommittee will do more analysis of the traffic and parking situation in the area and will work with the university’s school of agriculture, whose space will be most impacted if a stadium is built in the chosen location.

Market Analysis and Funding Sources

There is no active fundraising going on at this time, according to subcommittee facilitator Brett Anderson, but initial studies have been conducted to see how much money could be raised if fundraising were to commence.

The subcommittee estimates that it could raise between $45 million and $220 million from private donations, between $3.5 million and $4.9 million in corporate naming rights, between $7.2 million and $12.4 million in premium seating revenue, and between $443,000 and $759,000 in revenues from other uses of the stadium.

In total, the amount that could be raised could fall between $212 and $490 million, according to the findings. The low estimates are conservative numbers, according to Anderson, but even with low numbers, it is feasible to finance the stadium with the four revenue sources identified.

Other uses for the stadium could top 200 per year and would include smaller gatherings such as meetings, proms and wedding receptions.

Alumni, Campus and Public Engagement

The debate on the stadium remains polarized, according to Martin Carcasson at the CSU Center for Public Deliberation, and it is difficult to evaluate the arguments.

CSU students appear to be frustrated by the process, according to outgoing Associated Students of CSU President Eric Berlinberg, and surveys were distributed to further engage students.

Many students were grateful to be presented with the facts, but the student body was mostly split on the issue, he said.

Surveys sent to alumni have also come back with mixed results, and only about 10 percent of those sent out have been returned, so it is hard to gauge the sentiment of the alumni community, Carcasson said.

Location and campus impacts are some of the biggest issues with the potential project, as well as uncertainty about what might be done with Hughes Stadium.

Subcommittee members encouraged the members of different groups, like pro-stadium Be Bold, and stadium opposition group Save Our Stadium, Hughes, to do research to back up their arguments.

This subcommittee will also begin work on the issue of traffic and parking moving forward.

The idea of backing up findings with more facts and research was echoed by those in the crowd, including Colorado Rep. John Kefalas, who attending the meeting. It is “critical” that whatever recommendations the committee may make are backed up by facts, Kefalas said.

Kefalas represents District 52, which encompasses the eastern half of Fort Collins. He is also a CSU alum.

“I haven’t taken a position,” Kefalas said, “but I do have concerns and skepticism. There needs to be clear evidence that whatever is ultimately recommended is the right choice.”

Many members of Save Our Stadium, Hughes attended the meeting, including Bob Vangermeersch, who said that the opposition group would continue to work over the summer on ideas for repurposing Hughes and on putting together events of their own to raise awareness of their concerns.

The group is circulating petitions that have between 5,000 and 6,000 signatures, he said.

“This is the nicest stadium we don’t need,” Vangermeersch said. “The question is, ‘Where can we cram it into the present campus?'”

The committee as a whole is expected to make a final report to Frank in mid-August, according to Parsons. Any decision made by Frank must also be approved by the CSU Board of Governors.


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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