In reality, the site currently is little more than bare dirt – a former parking lot with no recognizable sign of what’s to come.
On Saturday morning, though, more than 500 people gathered on the CSU campus to celebrate a true field of dreams, cheering a groundbreaking ceremony for a new on-campus stadium that will be completed by fall 2017. Attendees included stadium donors, Ram Club supporters, university leaders, members of the Board of Governors and media.
“This is an historic moment in the life of our university,” director of athletics and event emcee Joe Parker told the enthusiastic crowd.
More than a stadium
Speakers included Blanche Hughes, vice president of student affairs; Kristi Bohlender, executive director of the alumni association; and football coach Mike Bobo, who took time to speak just hours before his Rams took on Minnesota that afternoon.
Hughes was almost giddy as she talked about the stadium’s many amenities that will make it much more than a sports venue. The building will include a new alumni center and 80,000 square feet of academic space.
“Our students will be welcomed to campus as freshmen by CASA (the Center for Advising and Student Achievement), they will graduate and then become alumni – all in a football stadium!” she said. “I tell you, it’s a vice president of student affairs’ dream!”
Bohlender hailed the facility as “a place to call home in the middle of our campus,” while Bobo said “it’s not just about football. It’s about the people coming back and making memories on this beautiful campus.”
A commitment to excellence
CSU President Tony Frank, who has shepherded the project through numerous challenges over the past three years, was given a standing ovation when introduced. He thanked the hundreds of people involved in the planning process for their work while also acknowledging a group of two dozen or so anti-stadium protesters outside the chain link construction fence.
“Their criticisms caused us to check everything not twice, but three or four times. To sharpen our pencils, to be careful – and I believe they made this project better at the end,” he said.
Frank talked about how the stadium is just one piece of an overall campus transformation aimed at strengthening CSU’s reputation in all areas.
“This is an absolutely wonderful project we will all be tremendously proud of. It demonstrates our unwavering commitment to excellence,” he said. “Settling for anything less that excellence is unacceptable. It’s not the CSU way, it never has been the CSU way, and it never will be the CSU way.”