DALLAS – Colorado State University will build a $250 million stadium on its Fort Collins, Colo., campus if promoters can raise half that amount through voluntary contributions, CSU President Tony Frank announced Monday.
“Before I would take any financing package to the Board of Governors for their consideration, I’d have to be extremely confident that the combination of philanthropy and financing against committed stadium revenues would cover the cost of the stadium,” Frank said in a prepared statement. “At this point, the clearest path that I can envision is $125 million of philanthropic funds supported by stadium revenue commitments able to service $125 million in debt.”
Colorado State is one of several universities planning or building new stadiums or remodeling old ones. Texas A&M University is expected to announce plans this month to expand century-old Kyle Field to more than 100,000 seats at a cost of up to $450 million.
CSU currently plays at Hughes Stadium which is off campus near Horsetooth Reservoir at the base of the Rocky Mountains. Promoters of an on-campus stadium say that having games on campus would promote the college atmosphere and help recruiting.
CSU’s situation is similar to that of Baylor University in Waco, Texas. Baylor is building an on-campus stadium after 62 years of playing football off-campus at Floyd Casey Stadium. Waco and Fort Collins are similar-sized cities, but Baylor is a private university affiliated with the Southern Baptist Church while CSU is a state-funded university.
Some residents of Fort Collins worry about parking and traffic congestion on game days if the stadium is moved on campus. Others say that building a new stadium doesn’t make sense when the fans don’t even fill the existing 32,500-seat Hughes Stadium.
If CSU cannot develop a plan for issuing bonds for the new stadium within two years, it will end the efforts and instead invest in Hughes Stadium, Frank said.
CSU formed a 17-member Stadium Advisory Committee nearly two years ago. The committee reported in August that stadium revenue commitments, including areas like ticket sales, naming rights and luxury seating, could reach as high as $26 million in the first year the structure was open.
An economics professor from Temple University hired by opponents to look at the advisory committee's figures called the revenue projects “wildly optimistic.”
“I respect those points of view and thank you all for them, even if I didn't arrive at the same conclusion,” Frank said in his statement.