Canvas Stadium – Colorado State Rams
Photos by Aaron S. Terry, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.29
Colorado State Stadium 751 W Pitkin St Fort Collins, CO 80521
Year Opened: 2017
Rams Football Finally Back on Campus
The Colorado State Rams had waited nearly 50 years to play football on campus again, and on August 26, 2017, that dream finally became a reality with the opening of Canvas Stadium, a sprawling 17.5-acre multi-purpose venue in the heart of campus; Colorado State would go on to defeat Oregon State on opening day by a score of 58-27.
Costing nearly $240 million to build, the stadium complex includes both an alumni center and an academic center, designed to bring faculty and students into the space year-round. In addition, the facility includes advising services for students, offers banquet spaces for use by CSU alums, and brings all of Colorado State’s football operations under one roof, with coach’s offices, training spaces, and even a full-size practice field next door to the stadium.
Three other key features of the new stadium include the New Belgium Porch, a craft beer space behind the north end zone that will be open on non-event days (and is also one of the most coveted seating areas in the stadium), the Hall of Champions beneath the west grandstand, which showcases the history and achievements of the Colorado State football program, and perhaps most prominently, a 2,000-pound sculpture of two life-size rams butting heads, aptly named “Rocky Mountain Rumble”, located on the north side of the stadium; this 21-foot sculpture was crafted by the late Dawn Weimer, and took 5 years to create.
Before moving to Canvas Stadium, the Rams played at Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium, a slightly smaller venue located about four miles west of campus. The Ram’s original on-campus home was Colorado Field, a 12,000-seat facility which opened in 1912 – Colorado Field was torn down in 1972; the site is now the location of Jack Christiansen Track, home to CSU’s track-and-field teams.
Food & Beverage 4
Canvas Stadium has a wide variety of food and beverage options available at its concessions stands; perhaps not everything you could ask for in terms of stadium fare, but enough to satisfy most tastes.
Food options include burgers, chicken wraps, salads, pizza and cheesy bread from Marco’s, hot dogs, nachos, pretzels, popcorn, fries, peanuts, kettle corn, and packaged candy; prices range from $3.50 for the smallest items to $10 for combo baskets.
Drink options include coffee, hot cocoa, bottled water, fountain soda, fresh-squeezed and frozen lemonade, and of course, beer and wine. While beer is available both in bottles and on tap from the regular concessions stands all along the concourse, you can find many more craft beer options behind the north end zone on the New Belgium Porch. The New Belgium Porch offers standing room only, but is open to fans from all other sections; in fact, Canvas Stadium seems less full than it actually is, since so many fans move down from their regular sections to watch the game from the New Belgium Porch.
Canvas Stadium incorporates a beautiful mid-century modern design, from the Rams-logo elements interspersed along its exterior, to the mix of Colorado sandstone, metal panel, and glass materials that tie into the rest of the architecture on campus, to the wide-open plazas that function as outdoor terraces for year-round use. Be sure to take a walk all the way around the stadium before or after the game to see the breathtaking architecture, complete with plenty of greenery, so much so that it is easy to forget you are high in the Rocky Mountains. Also be sure to stop by the Hall of Champions, under the west stands, to see the many trophies and other items on display.
Once you enter the stadium, be on the lookout for CAM the Ram, CSU’s live mascot who makes appearances at football games and other events on campus. CAM is an abbreviation of Colorado State University’s original name (Colorado Agricultural and Mechanical College), and he has a whole troop of handlers who help bring him onto the field during the game; CAM even has his own trailer, which is parked outside during the game by the east stands. Also be sure to get to the game early to watch the CSU Marching Band during pregame, where they spell out C-S-U and create other formations; the band looks smart in their white uniforms, complete with green-and-gold logo sleeves stretched across the bells of their tubas.
Located in the heart of Colorado State’s campus, Canvas Stadium is located near some on-campus housing. As such, there are lots of small quick-service type restaurants located within walking distance of the stadium, particularly along West Elizabeth Street near Moby Arena, home of CSU’s basketball teams. There are a couple of more substantial eateries within driving distance, however, such as Café Bluebird, which is open for breakfast and lunch, and The Lost Cajun, which features real Cajun cuisine such as beignets and gumbo (both of these restaurants are located northeast of campus).
If you are going to be in town for the weekend, and are looking for something to do before or after the game, like many places west of the Mississippi the main attractions near Canvas Stadium are the natural and wildlife areas, worth exploring for their breathtaking scenery and fresh air. A couple such options are the Cache La Poudre River and the Horsetooth Mountain Open Space, both of which offer hiking and other activities.
Fans at Canvas Stadium show up in force, and most are adorned in CSU colors, and are proud to be cheer on their team. While the new stadium doesn’t quite sell out, the team is seeing much bigger draws than they enjoyed at Hughes Stadium, both because of the improved facilities and because the on-campus location is more convenient for students; opening day drew a crowd of about 37,000, just shy of the stadium’s capacity of 41,000.
I mentioned earlier that certain parts of the stadium seem empty, and this is mostly due to the fact that fans are allowed to use tickets from their regular seats to get onto the New Belgium Porch, and many fans can be seen watching the game from there. Technically only the first few rows of the north end zone are sold as standing-room-only seats; the rest of the fans in this area are from other sections, so even though the north end zone seems full, it doesn’t count toward capacity, since most of it isn’t “real” seats.
Getting to Canvas Stadium isn’t very difficult, except for the potentially long drive from the nearest airport or major city, as Ft. Collins could be considered a little off the beaten path. However, you should be able to easily find parking within a few blocks of the stadium for around $20, as long as you get there a little early (half an hour before the game or so). There are not any large lots to speak of, but plenty of residents and businesses rent out spaces in their private lots or driveways, and you can enter the stadium from any side.
Once you get inside Canvas Stadium, however, be prepared for some long lines, especially during halftime, as there are a lot of people packed into a small concourse, particularly on the west side. There appear to be plenty of bathrooms, but perhaps not enough concessions stand to accommodate the crowd size; your best bet is actually to walk around to the south side or the east side (where the students are), as those sections are far less crowded than the “alumni stands” on the west. The Hall of Champions is also a great place to go to beat the crowds, as this area seems to be pretty deserted while the game is going on. The New Belgium Porch also empties out at the beginning of the fourth quarter (predictably), as beer sales end at that time.
Return on Investment 5
Tickets to games at Canvas Stadium run about $40 for the general public, which is in line with prices at other similarly-sized college football venues. Given all the amenities provided at the new facility, for example the Hall of Champions, the New Belgium Porch, and the Rocky Mountain Rumble statue, not to mention the stadium design itself with all of the CSU elements built it, this is a great value. Furthermore, you may even be able to get tickets cheaper on the secondary market, since (so far) the new stadium is not quite selling out.
The Colorado State Rams are a decent football team, with winning records over the past few seasons, although bowl game victories have been hard to come by of late. Nevertheless, the beautiful, brand-new stadium provides a big incentive for football fans to make the trek to Ft. Collins; the university has pulled out all the stops to make this a great atmosphere for college football, and your visit to Canvas Stadium will not disappoint.