CSU shows off its new sta­dium, and there is plenty of great stuff to see

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Kyle Fredrick­son The Den­ver Post Photos by Andy Cross, The Den­ver Post

COLLINS» Joe Parker walked FORT through the front doors with about 30 fol­low­ing be­hind Tues­day, his voice recorded on five mi­cro­phones clamped to the col­lar of his white, ironed shirt, as he played tour guide for the first pub­lic glimpse inside Colorado State’s nearly fin­ished on-cam­pus foot­ball sta­dium.

The Rams’ ath­letic di­rec­tor has more than two decades of ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing in col­lege sports, aid­ing in sta­dium ren­o­va­tions at Texas, Ok­la­homa and Michi­gan along the way, but never quite in this role — parad­ing a $220 mil­lion project he in­her­ited four months af­ter it was ap­proved in 2015 to a large group of re­porters from across the Front Range.

“That’s a first for me,” Parker said in the shadow of a green CSU cap while stand­ing be­neath the sun on Sonny Lu­bick Field.

As it will be again for kick­off against Ore­gon State on Aug. 26 when the col­lec­tive eyes of the col­lege foot­ball world will de­scend upon Fort Collins. The open­ing game of the sea­son na­tion­wide. Parker hopes view­ers come to agree with what he has be­lieved all along.

“In many ways, we prob­a­bly built the best sta­dium in Amer­ica,” he said.

The struc­ture that stands 123 feet tall at its peak and cov­ers 17.56 acres on the south­west side of the main cam­pus was bustling with ac­tiv­ity Tues­day as work­ers com­pleted its fi­nal touches. CSU en­listed the help of Kansas City, Mo.-based ar­chi­tect Pop­u­lous, whose col­lege foot­ball sta­dium clients in­clude Kansas State (2015), Texas A&M (2015), Bay­lor (2014) and Min­nesota (2009). Ben­net Stindt was among the orig­i­nal Pop­u­lous de­sign­ers to de­velop CSU’s project, and said, “One of the unique things about this sta­dium and the size al­lowed us to have very unique, pre­mium ameni­ties to it.”

A few ex­am­ples as seen Tues­day:

In terms of foot­ball op­er­a­tions, each step of the player ex­pe­ri­ence is con­nected be­neath the west stands.

A 9,100-square-foot weight room with equip­ment cus­tom­ized to CSU’s strength pro­gram is ad­ja­cent to a fu­el­ing sta­tion for pre­and post­work­out nu­tri­tion. Down the hall is an 11,000-square-foot sports medicine fa­cil­ity that can ac­com­mo­date up to 60 ath­letes at once in­clud­ing train­ing ta­bles, re­hab sta­tions, cold/hot tubs and a ther­apy pool.

It’s also short walk to a locker room with ven­ti­lated stalls equipped with sev­eral power out­lets, a team meet­ing space with 150 leather green-and-gold seats, and po­si­tional rooms just across the hall­way. Play­ers and re­cruits also have ac­cess to a lounge filled with leather couches, TVs and two pool ta­bles.

“It’s a re­al­ity now,” third-year CSU coach Mike Bobo said. “We came in last week as a staff, but it re­ally hit home this week when the play­ers came over on Sun­day. I think I saw more guys yes­ter­day than I did the first two years when it wasn’t prac­tice time or team meet­ings.”

No mat­ter a fan’s lo­ca­tion in the sta­dium, there are few places without a clear view of the ac­tion. In ad­di­tion to a high-def­i­ni­tion video screen on the south end that stretches 50 feet wide and 84 feet tall, an open air con­course rarely blocks view of the field when fans leave their seats.

“They’ll al­ways feel like they’re em­bed­ded in the game ex­pe­ri­ence,” Parker said.

Among the finer de­tails dis­cov­ered Tues­day were painted above the con­ces­sion stands that wrap the con­course. White moun­tains are set to a green sky where the names and like­nesses of Colorado’s 53 four­teen­ers are iden­ti­fied through­out.

“That was very in­ten­tional,” Parker said. “You look of points of pride to speak to the en­tire state of Colorado. That’s one thing when I ar­rived that peo­ple talked about all the time, the four­teen­ers in the state. That’s unique to Colorado, so it just made sense to use that con­cept.”

The pub­lic will have an op­por­tu­nity to view in per­son the on-cam­pus sta­dium from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Aug. 5 as part of CSU’s Com­mu­nity Open House. More in­for­ma­tion and free tick­ets can be found at csurams.com/foot­ball­game­day.

“Peo­ple haven’t even ex­pe­ri­enced the build­ing,” Parker said. “It would be my ex­pec­ta­tion that once they ac­tu­ally get in and use it, they’re go­ing to feel even more com­fort­able about what we’ve done as a univer­sity.”

Colorado State will of­fi­cially open its new foot­ball sta­dium Aug. 26 in a game against Ore­gon State of the Pac-12.

Ath­letic di­rec­tor Joe Parker pre­dicts CSU fans will like what they see when they en­ter the fa­cil­ity.

Photos by Andy Cross, The Den­ver Post

Ben Knox, a 6-foot-6, 325-pound of­fen­sive line­man who trans­ferred from In­de­pen­dence (Kan.) Com­mu­nity Col­lege, en­joys the Rams’ new digs in the locker room.

CSU play­ers will get to soak in the hy­drother­apy tubs at their new, on-cam­pus sta­dium.

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