Jul 11, 2016

Big $220 Million Colorado State University Stadium On Track for Completion


Ten months into construction, work on the new and massive Colorado State University football stadium in Fort Collins is both on time and on budget.

“The team is continuing to work on the structure of the building with planning toward the exterior enclosure,” reports Dan Loosbrock with the Icon Venue Group, the company providing project management for the stadium’s construction.

Loosbrock, project manager overseeing design and construction of the stadium, adds that the structure is scheduled for completion in June 2017, “which means that CSU can move into the building at that time in anticipation of the first game in September.”

One of the largest public university construction projects in recent Colorado history, the new construction’s total price tag is $238 million when the cost of building an adjacent academic space is figured in.

Photo courtesy Colorado State University Athletics

Going up on a 17.5-acre site that was once an unpaved parking lot, everything about the new stadium is big: upon completion it will measure just over 644,000 square feet, housing a total capacity of 41,000 seats, 22 open-air suites, 22 concourse-level restrooms, 19 ticket booths, and 86 working spaces for reporters and television broadcasts, among other amenities.   

Photo courtesy Colorado State University Athletics

Big, too, were the many community input meetings held in 2012 when the new stadium was first proposed, meetings that presaged CSU President Tony Frank’s ultimate decision to approve replacing the durable Hughes Stadium, home of the Colorado State Rams since 1968, with a new facility.

In making that decision, Frank noted that the new stadium would actually be on the campus of CSU, vs. the Hughes Stadium, which is located 4 miles to the west.

Frank said he liked the idea of a single structure attracting alumni to the CSU campus, as well as students “enjoying an event—whether a concert of a commencement—in the space they call home for a wonderful, if short, period of their lives.”

Support for the new stadium, says Eric Hjelm, a coordinator with the CSU athletics development staff, is seen not just with the members of the school’s Ram Club, whose donations fund student athletic scholarships, but “also with a lot of people who are buying new season tickets that are trying to get in and be a part of it.”

“Everyone is excited about it,” adds Hjelm.

Architectural rendering of completed stadium.  Photo courtesy Colorado State University Athletics

Designed by the architectural firm of Populous, which has offices in Denver, and built by Mortenson Construction, whose headquarters are in Chicago, the new stadium will be LEED-certified with an exterior palette made of Colorado sandstone, metal, and glass.

Incredibly, despite its massive scale, work on the project has proceeded almost entirely without a hitch, notes Loosbrock.

“With any construction project, there are sometimes unforeseen conditions,” he says. “With this project, those have been minimal.”

Photo courtesy Colorado State University Athletics

“However,” continues Loosbrock, “we did run into one issue with the underground utilities when we were installing the sanitary sewer line. We came upon some conflicting water lines within the street and ultimately had to relocate water lines.”

Relocating those lines resulted in intermittent water outages for nearby neighbors, described by Loosbrock as being “very understanding and gracious about the process.”

Perhaps the most controversial element of the stadium project remains what to do with the old bowl-shaped Hughes Stadium, which is located at the base of the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.

Some Fort Collins residents, including Bob Vangermeersch, founder of the Save Our Stadium Hughes, who has argued that the replacing the old stadium has been “nothing more than a tremendous waste of money,” have also wanted to keep intact the older facility, which sits on roughly 160 acres.

But CSU officials are instead thinking about new options for the site, including the possibility of building affordable income housing there. Development of that land will see CSU working with the City of Fort Collins in particular to connect the site to mass transit.

Meanwhile, interior work on the new stadium, which includes walls, and the building of plumbing, mechanical, and electrical systems, is scheduled to wrap early next year.

“We will then focus on the building enclosure, including curtain wall systems and exterior finishes that are stone, brick, and metal panel,” says Loosbrock.

Asked if he is sure the new stadium, which will reach a height of 123 feet at its highest point, will be ready in time for the fall 2017 season, Loosbrock has a three-word answer: “Yes. Go Rams!”    


By Garry Boulard

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