Colorado State thinks a $246m football stadium will help balance its budget

I’m not sure what to say about this that isn’t already covered by the included quote from an opponent to the plan: “This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen.”

Faced with declining state funding, [Colorado State University] is raising money to build a $246 million, 40,000-seat football stadium on its Fort Collins campus. University President Tony Frank says the new facility will help build a winning football team while advancing one of the school’s highest priorities: attracting more out-of-state students paying higher tuition.

You can sort of understand why CSU is desparate: Its state funding has been slashed in recent years, and it now only gets 10% of its budget from the state, so bringing in higher-paying students sounds like a solution. Frank notes that the University of Oregon built a whole bunch of new athletic facilities and doubled its share of nonresident students — though neither he nor the Wall Street Journal article attempts to determine if that’s the main reason, or even whether the increased tuition payments at Oregon have been enough to pay off the athletic facilities (which in any case at Oregon have mostly been funded by donations from Nike founder Phil Knight).

Then there’s this little problem:

No academic research exists to support the notion that a new stadium helps a college football team win, experts say. Nor will it necessarily attract more fans. The universities of Akron and Minnesota both moved from off-campus to new on-campus stadiums in 2009. Both saw initial attendance bumps before attendance dropped below pre-new-stadium levels.

Maybe if Colorado State thinks that out-of-state students will come based on a winning football team, it should skip all this stadium-building nonsense and just pay for some better players. Oh wait.