|A Colorado Legislature’s Capital Development Committee approved the sale of revenue bonds to fund construction of Colorado State University’s new football stadium. While there is a state-intercept system available to assist the funding of capital projects on Colorado college and university campuses, Colorado State University President Tony Frank elected not to take advantage of it.
When the stadium was first proposed in 2012 by then athletic director Jack Graham, it was expected to cost between $100 million and $200 million and seat between 40,000 and 50,000 people. Frank told the CSU Stadium Committee that the stadium would never be funded by tuition fees, state appropriations, or taxes. Later that year, Frank set a goal of raising $125 million in private donations before moving forward with the construction.
Late in 2013, a 55,000 square foot academic space is added to plans of the stadium, while other revisions reduce the overall cost of construction by $20 million. Further revisions lower seating capacity to 36,000. By September of 2014, $50 million had been raised, and in October, Frank decided to reevaluate the university’s options.
In November 2014, Frank announced that the best option would be to build the stadium in phases using the funds already donated and procuring bonds for the difference in cost. Colorado State University will be relying on revenue generated by the stadium to cover the debts incurred during its construction.
Every year, an estimated $442 billion in revenue is generated by the college and university industry in the United States. To cover the debt, the stadium will need to bring in between $9.8 million and $14.8 million annually through naming rights, ticket sales, and luxury seating.
Opponents of the new stadium, including economics professor Bob Keller, are concerned about the university’s debt load and what will happen if the stadium fails to bring in the required revenue.
“Tony (Frank) has gotten kind of locked in that there will be no general fund used to pay for this thing and student fees will not be raised to support this,” Keller said to the Coloradoan. “Will that turn out to be true if these projections don’t come true?”