Countdown to kickoff: CSU’s stadium coming to life

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Mike Bobo has toured Colorado State’s on-campus stadium many times during construction, so he’s well aware of what’s happening as the $220 million facility takes shape.

But earlier this month, as Bobo accompanied media members during a tour of the stadium, the third-year Rams football coach couldn’t contain his enthusiasm.

“I think it’s going to be spectacular,” Bobo said. “It amazes me every time I come here to see the progress that has been made. The amount of detail that goes into every project is amazing. The sheer beauty of this facility gets you excited to be the head football coach here at Colorado State.”

The multi-use stadium, under construction for more than 18 months, officially opens for business Aug. 26 when the Rams open the 2017 season against Oregon State. That game will mark the first time the Rams have played on CSU’s main campus in 50 years. The previous 49 seasons were spent playing at Hughes Stadium, located three miles west of campus.

New home, new amenities

Right now, work at the stadium is 80 percent complete, with the main structure in place and interior finish work well under way. Nearly 750 workers are on the job on a daily basis, each working toward completing the massive project on time and on budget.

“When this is finished I believe it really will exceed everyone’s expectations,” said Joe Parker, director of athletics. “It will be one of the best facilities in the country. I’d put it up against any Power 5 conference facility.”

On the interior, work is nearing completion in several areas. The massive (11,000 square feet) weight and training area, which is bathed in natural light from the stadium’s west side, already has flooring in place. And coaches’ offices, which overlook the weight room, have drywall in place and soon will be ready for paint and flooring.

State-of-the-art facilities

The sports medicine area, which includes four hydro-therapy pools, is taking shape, as is the sports nutrition station. And the spacious locker room – with space for 125 student-athletes – already includes most of the large, wood lockers that will serve players on both practice and game days.

For fans, the stadium’s many amenities are in various stages of completion. The extra-wide concourses – a welcome change to the tight quarters at Hughes Stadium – already have concessions and restroom areas in place. And the suites and press box, which feature spectacular views of the campus and city to the east, are fully enclosed with large windows.

The next few months will be spent finishing indoor spaces and completing work on the stadium’s exterior. Doug Max, CSU’s senior associate athletics director for facilities and event management, said the brick plaza at the stadium’s north entrance, massive scoreboard on the south end and playing surface should be completed by June 9.

Practice fields on the stadium’s west side will be ready to use June 1. The football and training staffs should be able to occupy their spaces starting June 9, with the move expected to take about a month.

Non-football events filling calendar

Meanwhile, CSU officials have been pleased with the number of non-football events already on the calendar in the unique premium areas. Parker said 29 events – everything from meetings to wedding receptions – already have been booked, with more coming in on a daily basis.

“This truly will be a multi-use stadium – a place where all the campus and community can gather,” Parker said. “We get the keys June 9, and that’s when it truly will become a multi-use facility. I fully expect it to become one of the most popular gathering venues in the area.”

Bobo was asked if he plans to take his players on a stadium tour this spring. Although the Rams did get a look at the facility prior to playing in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in December, Bobo is holding off on a return trip.

“I don’t know if I’m going to bring them over here any time soon,” said Bobo, who is in the midst of spring practice entering his third season. “I told them we had to earn the right to get into this stadium, and we’re in the process of earning that right. I see how hard the construction crew is working over here and I want to make sure our coaches and players are working just as hard.”