Team, fans check out venue
Ten-yearold FORT Christian Mirenda and his 8-year-old brother, Grayson, were first in line Saturday behind a celebratory green ribbon outside the north gates at Colorado State’s new on-campus football stadium when athletic director Joe Parker was handed a giant pair of golden scissors.
The two boys from Littleton were among the 21,447 fans who flocked to 751 W. Pitkin St. for CSU’S community open house and football team scrimmage, a free event to unveil the complex in its final stages of construction before kickoff Aug. 26 against Oregon State. With one slice of ribbon from Parker, the crowd roared, the white metal gates opened and a $220 million project more than five years in the making finally opened to the public.
Just about everyone walked the concourse with that same wide-eyed expression as those young boys at the front.
“Either jaws were down or smiles were up,” Parker said. “That made me feel pretty good.”
While the facility has been mostly operational for months, Saturday’s showcase provided a multipronged test run for several internal systems used during a real game day: security, ticket scanning, usher placement, concessions functionality, video displays and more. Like any first day, there was plenty to be learned too.
With only some concessions stands operational, long lines created congestion in the concourse. Twitter user @Sharondsafety posted a photo of a bare hot dog in a paper tray with the caption: “How do you (run) out of buns?” Another user, @johnpaulsampson, pointed out a misspelling on the list of fourteeners depicted in murals above the concourse — La Planta Peak instead of La Plata Peak.
“We’re developing a list that we’re going to improve on,” Parker said. “So three weeks from now when we actually have a game in the building, we’ll be even that much better.”
For Anthony and Tara Mirenda, 2001 CSU graduates and parents of those eager kids who first entered the stadium, the connection to Rams football runs deep. The Mirendas were among thousands whose financial donations to the project were honored with personalized bricks, that when combined with others, spells RAMS on the pavement outside the north gates.
“Tara and I met our first week of freshman year here, so we just wanted something that would last to represent our family,” Anthony Mirenda said. “This stadium is something that was a long time coming, and the university has needed it for years. … It’s going to be fantastic. I think it will be transformative for athletics here.”
That energy also was felt by CSU players and coaches during a scrimmage that lasted more than 100 plays, even through a lightningcaused delay of more than an hour, as the Rams played on new Sonny Lubick Field for the first time with CSU faithful in attendance.
College football season is on the horizon.
“We’re kind of hanging around the office, treating it like a regular game day and I kept walking to the windows in the facility and looking outside,” said CSU head coach Mike Bobo. “To see our fans out there two or three hours before the game, it just kind of gave me chills.”