Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Why I hate Sports Authority Field

It's no secret that I despise everything to do with the Rocky Mountain Showdown.  I hate the traditional timing (1st week, although this season is mercifully different), I hate the opponent, and I really hate giving the opponent an undeserved spot in the "national" spotlight.  But the element of the RMS that frustrates me the most is the venue.  Invesco Sports Authority Field, as 'just another soul-less NFL stadium,' has no right to host a college game.

It's not the opponent... honestly, it's not.  Were CU to play Nebraska in the stadium, it would still be a terrible idea.  I was listening to Vic and Gary on 102.3 this morning, and I swear Vic Lombardi used the term "unique" to describe a bland NFL vacuous canyon of plastic and concrete.  I don't know what Vic was smoking, but the current version of Mile High is anything but unique. 

Old Mile High was a unique venue.  Folsom Field is a unique venue (just look to last week; I'll take last Saturday in Folsom, with it's perfect weather and rockin' crowd, over anywhere else in the world).  Hell, even CSU's Hughes Stadium, such as it is, is unique (it uniquely recreates the experience of going to a mid-level Texas high school game... only without the large attendance).  Sports Authority Field is fake, corporate, and devoid of any sense of place.  There are over 25 rough facsimiles spaced across the NFL; certainly not unique.  Seriously, what's the difference between Sports Authority and, say, Paul Brown Stadium?
Hooray!  Half-empty, lifeless venue!  Can't wait for Saturday!
I loved the way Thorburn put it this morning in the Camera: "I understand why the 4A and 5A state championships are played at Sports Authority Field. It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience for those high school players to step on the same field where Tim Tebow watches the Denver Broncos play."  Badass use of the current Bronco roster-fail aside, that's exactly the point.  The only reason the new-ish Mile High holds any significance is because the Broncos play there.  It's not the home of the Buffs, it's not the home of the Rams, it's the home of some team that has no connection to either program.

I took great note of where the Northwestern Wildcats decided to play their alternate venue rivalry game last season; they picked Wrigley Field over the current incarnation of Soldier Field in Chicago.  It made perfect sense: historical venue (Wrigley was once home to more than the Cubs, afterall), made for a great story, and didn't piggy-back on the local NFL team's schtick.  The 'Cats were doing their own thing, separated from what the Bears do.  Why do Colorado sports teams constantly feel obligated to hitch themselves to the Broncos' broken wagon-train?  CU and CSU should have more pride in themselves than that.

I think the declining attendance is a pointed reaction to the failure of venue.  Sure, it has a lot to do with the painful decline in the quality of both programs (To steal from Thorburn: "Since the 2006 season kicked off, the Buffs are 21-42 and the Rams are 22-41." Yikes.), but even with the losses piling up on the front range, CU still stuffs over 45k into Folsom each Saturday.  Last season, the two fanbases combined for barely that in Invesco Sports Authority.  The fans are starting to vote with their wallets; who really wants to spend time and gas getting to Denver, only to be gouged by outrageous parking, ticket and food prices to experience an event is a lousy venue?

The game belongs on campus.  At this point, I don't even care which campus.  Hell, let's all head up to Laramie for all I care, just get it out of Sports Authority Field.  If on-campus is good enough for UCLA-USC, Alabama-Auburn, and Michigan-Ohio State, then it should be good enough for CU-CSU.

Find some lawyers, and get the fuck out of that dumb-ass contract.

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