The first FBS college football game of the 2017 season doubles as the first game ever at Colorado State’s glistening new home. The Rams are hosting Oregon State on Saturday (2:30 p.m. ET, CBSSN) in the debut of the aptly named Colorado State Stadium.
It’s a beautiful venue on CSU’s Fort Collins campus. It replaces the old Hughes Stadium, which opened its doors in 1968. And people look really excited to be there.
The new CSU Stadium seats 41,200, compared to 32,500 at the old place. That’s about 30,000 seats for general admission and 10,000 for students, plus a thousand or so more in suites, clubs, and loge boxes. The school tripled the size of its video board. What it’ll lack in history, it’ll make up for by being a beautiful place to watch a game. It’s got mountains in the background. I’m already pitching my editor to send me there.
Colorado State says the building’s funds are coming from donors and bond investors, not students via their tuition checks or the state government via appropriations. CSU’s going to have to pay interest on those bonds, and the project on the whole isn’t cheap. It has been slated to cost about $240 million.
But, hey ... there’s a craft beer porch.
There’s a cool wall:
And the stadium looks pristine:
And for the Oregon State game, CSU’s putting on a stripe-out.
The new stadium should change things for CSU sports
The Rams have played in the Mountain West since 1999, when they jumped over from the WAC. The MWC is a good league, but CSU was among the 17 teams that tried to join the Big 12 when that league was considering expansion in 2016.
Colorado State made an aggressive and impressive pitch, an SB Nation records request showed. The new stadium, which was then under construction, was one of the key selling points in a 12-page brochure CSU circulated among Big 12 leadership. Facility upgrades were one of the things CSU emphasized the most.
Big 12 teams had averaged 57,000 fans per home game in the three years leading up to CSU’s pitch, and the new stadium’s still not in that neighborhood. But it’s nonetheless a great spot, and when some power league seriously considers expansion again, having CSU Stadium will give the Rams a better chance to level up than many.
More likely is that the Rams stay put, but that doesn’t mean the new field won’t help them. This stadium is probably the nicest in the Group of 5 conferences, and you don’t need to be in a power conference for good facilities to help you.
Having this stadium should improve the Rams’ recruiting and make them more attractive to prospective coach hires. If they become a mainstay atop the MWC and contend for New Year’s Six bowl bids regularly, the stadium will have helped.