This newly released rendering shows Colorado State University's proposed on-campus football stadium. Courtesy of Colorado State University
FORT COLLINS - Colorado State University has withdrawn its request that on-campus football stadium contractors make cash donations to the project after the state's top building official called the proposal "concerning."
Instead, the university is asking whoever builds the stadium - along with their subcontractors - to donate materials to the construction effort. The university says encouraging private contractors to donate will help them meet fundraising goals.
Stadium critics say the misstep highlights a dangerous potential for bid inflation and financial impropriety on the project CSU intends to fund through donations and sponsorships. They say CSU's decision to "encourage" contractors to donate is akin to blackmail and worry it sets a dangerous precedent for the university's future publicly funded projects.
"In the third world, you don't get a contract unless you grease somebody's palm," said stadium critic Bob Vangermeersch. "This basically says they're desperate and they're trying to squeeze out donation money wherever they can."
University officials liken the donation requests to the partnership struck between the state and contractors rebuilding the Colorado State Capitol Dome. But they refused to discuss why the initial request was worded the way it was, or why it was withdrawn.
Last week, CSU released new renderings of the proposed stadium and made two vice presidents and Athletic Director Jack Graham available for interviews. When asked to comment for this story, however, university officials declined repeated interview requests, citing the ongoing bidding process.
Colorado Ethics Watch said the initial request raised a "legitimate concern" about whether CSU was creating a pay-to-play situation, but praised the university's quick decision to alter it.
In one year, CSU plans to break ground on the 40,000-seat stadium, which today is priced at $226.5 million.
Later this week, university officials will begin interviewing representatives from seven of the state's largest construction companies, which are interested in building portions of the stadium. The university has set a July 2016 deadline for opening the stadium, which would be on the south side of CSU's Fort Collins campus.
Read the full story on the Fort Collins Coloradoan: http://noconow.co/1hTQwfY.
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