Lightning might have caused a Rocky Mountain Showdown slowdown Friday, pushing the kickoff to 8:47 p.m., but the game was only part of the party. The parking lot Broncos Stadium at Mile High in Denver was packed with University of Colorado and Colorado State University fans who soaked up the daytime sunshine and just a little bit of rain.
The game, when it finally got underway, might have been the Buffs and Rams last face-off at Mile High.
In every season-opener since 2010, the game has taken place at the venue, though next year, the game will see Boulder fans making the trek to Fort Collins to watch the game at CSU’s Canvas Stadium, which opened in 2017.
And though making the trip to Denver has long been a way for Colorado football fans to christen a new season, some aren’t sad to see the change come.
Arjun Gill, a recent CU graduate and Buffs fan who was tailgating outside of Mile High Friday, said that though there were “a lot of good memories here,” he was excited “to go to Fort Collins and Boulder,” adding that the smaller stadiums would fill out better.
Another reason some fans said they want the games to return to college stadiums is the atmosphere. Craig Poulter, a CU alumni who has held Buffs season tickets for over 30 years and was tailgating outside the game Friday, said Mile High doesn’t have the same “college environment.”
“I love the Broncos, I love Mile High Stadium, but we belong on campus,” he said. “And it is something that is financially compromising for us as a university, and I’m thankful and glad that we’re moving on.”
Poulter added that, with “all due respect to CSU,” he feels the Buffs don’t need to play them every year, saying the No. 1 rivalry in his book is the school’s long-held one with the University of Nebraska.
“It’s weird that we don’t even play our rival, except on rare occasions,” Mark Eissman, who was tailgating with Poulter and is himself a 20-year season ticket holder, said about Nebraska. The two teams have only met three times in the past decade, with one of those games occurring last season.
However, the two schools will get to hash it out soon, as they meet next Saturday at Folsom Field. Poulter said the game is one that he “cannot wait for.”
“I think that this game has out-served its purpose,” said Eissman, who travels from St. Louis to attend CU games and, according to Poulter, is one of the most die-hard Buffs fans around, despite him not being an alumni. “When both teams were good in the late ‘90s and the beginning of the 2000s, and they could fill this place up, then there was atmosphere and it was a fun game.”
He added that back then, there was more “at stake,” and those from across the state came out more to support the game.
“If both teams were fighting for something big, we were both ranked and there was a lot at stake and both teams were playing, pretty much, on level playing fields, I think this place would be OK, but over the years I think the interest in this game has really waned,” Eissman said.
Not all fans that came out Friday were happy about the venue change, though.
“I think it should stay here,” said Kaila Ugarte, who came out to support CSU. “(Because) they can attract more people.”
But she said that she also is “super pumped” to see the game come to Fort Collins next year, adding a customary “go Rams.”
And to Ugarte, the rivalry between CU and CSU is “intense,” and still very much alive.
“It’s nothing like (an) Auburn-Alabama kind of rivalry, that’s a whole ‘nother scale,” said Jonathan Weaver, who was with Ugarte Friday waiting for the game to start. “But as far as it goes in Colorado, I love it.”