Team, fans check out venue

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Kyle Fredrick­son

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.”

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