What the New Stadium Means for Colorado State


The Colorado State Board of Regents approved a plan to build an on campus football stadium on Friday. The vote was 8-0 with one member electing to abstain. This is big news on a lot of fronts and offers a number of benefits for everyone involved.

The first benefit should be increased attendance, especially among the students. For those of you who have never been to a game at Hughes Stadium, you need to understand that it is a chore getting in and out of there.

More from CSU Rams

There’s one road in and one road out. If you decide to go to a CSU game at Hughes, you had better just plan on giving up your entire Saturday. Students who spent their Friday night studying or maybe partying are not getting up, getting in a car, sitting in traffic to go to a football game.

If, however, there’s an on campus stadium where students can roll out of bed and walk to the game, then you have a chance to fill the student section every week. In addition to the improved student attendance, an on campus stadium is going to also be attractive to fans who live in the community and even to those driving up from the Denver area.

One would have to assume that a new stadium is going to feature better access and have all of the bells and whistles to go along with a new venue. In short, a new on campus stadium will lead to increased attendance and hopefully more involvement in the program.

That attendance and increased interest gives Colorado State a real chance to move into the Big 12 conference within the next few years. The Big 12 currently sits at 10 teams, don’t ask, and they are desperate to get back to 12. The new stadium and assuming the Rams can build on this 10 win season, might make them extremely attractive to Big 12 officials. Colorado State fits perfect geographically.

What would being in the Big 12 mean? Let’s start with the obvious, more money but that’s not what fans always want to hear about, they want to hear about what it might mean on the field. Let’s look a real life example to help illustrate what a potential move to the Big 12 might mean.

Had the Rams been in the Big 12, there’s a better than decent chance that Jim McElwain never leaves for Florida. Why? Because the Big 12 is a power five conference and if you win it, then chances are you are going to be in the discussion for one of the four playoff spots in the newly created College Football Playoff.

There’s no denying that money played a part in McElwain’s decision to leave but if CSU had been in the Big 12, they would have been able to pay him more money and it would have been much easier to keep him. Coaches like McElwain want to make money, yes, but they also want to be at a school and in a conference where they have a chance to compete on the national level.

Now before you all go nuts on me, I fully understand that the Rams aren’t a top 10 or even a top 20 team yet. My point is this, a new on campus stadium is the first step and it makes the open head coaching position much more attractive.

As for the new coach, Colorado State has to make a good hire here. They got some momentum back with the vote on the stadium in the wake of McElwain leaving. Now they need to build on the momentum of the season as well as the stadium vote, and make somewhat of a splashy hire.

By splashy I do not mean a big name like Bo Pelini who was just let go from Nebraska. The two names that I’ve heard early on in the process that have me intrigued are Matt Lubick and Tony Alford.

Lubick is the son of CSU Legend, Sonny Lubick and is one of the rising stars at the University of Oregon. Alford is currently the running backs coach and recruiting coordinator at Notre Dame. Alford was also a star running back for the Rams and has a love for the program.

Both Lubick and Alford would excite the fan base and that would keep the momentum going. Both are excellent recruiters and that would be big in Ft. Collins. You don’t get to be the recruiting coordinator at Notre Dame by accident and Lubick is given credit for landing a lot of the offensive talent currently at Oregon.

I love Dave Baldwin and his passion for the program but the worry there would be does he have the cache to build on the momentum. He’s not a “name” and I think recruiting would suffer because of it. If the Rams were not getting a new stadium and their goal was to be competitive in the Mountain West, then Baldwin would be the perfect fit.

However with the new stadium now approved, it’s ok to dream big and names like Lubick and Alford just make more sense. The program hit a bump in the road earlier this week when McElwain left but the Board of Regents may have gotten it back on track.

The stadium is the first step, now it’s time to hire the right coach and finish the climb.