The Rocky Mountain Showdown between the Colorado Buffaloes and Colorado State Rams is upon us yet again. This year marks the 87th meeting of the in-state rivalry with the Centennial Cup at stake along with all important bragging rights for the next year. At one point, the annual affair was a valued tradition for both schools with more of a "back and forth" type of feeling. However, over the past five years the showdown has lost the spirit of competition and CU's Rick George believes he knows why.
"What it needs to be relevant, is it needs to go back on campus", the Buffs athletic director said about the match up with CSU. A home and home scenario with the Rams is what George envisions for the future. "It needs to go back to Fort Collins when they have a home game and it needs to come back to Boulder".
Moving the series back to each school's respective campus would bring back the exciting atmosphere that's desperately needed. The rivalry game was moved to Denver in 1998 because of demand for a bigger venue and the potential for a larger revenue split between both schools. In theory, the concept would have been beneficial and convenient for travel accommodations, but the downside has been an inability to fill the stadium to capacity over the past decade. Attendance has been down considerably at Sports Authority Field at Mile High and the only recorded sellout for the showdown occurred in 2003.
George's argument is supported by the numbers. Due to contractual obligations, the game has been shifted to Boulder three times since Denver was made the neural site and each time resulted in a sellout game at Folsom Field.
"I think Denver was a great idea and was a good idea for four or five years, but then it hasn't been that great of an idea."
George cites better accommodations for the fans as being a key for future change.
"It's a really difficult challenge for our fans who don't go to Denver very often. To know where to park, what the ingress and egress is and they don't get the same quality of ticket location that they do at a home venue. If it's our home venue, we've got two sidelines that's we're trying to condense into one because Colorado State has the other."
Another advantage of splitting time between Boulder and Fort Collins would be the contribution it would provide to local businesses. Bringing that money back and supporting both communities is something George understands the need for.
"If I'm a business in Boulder or Fort Collins, I'm saying why? I want that business to come here."
It's estimated the economic impact of hosting the showdown for downtown Denver businesses is around a combined $12.5 million per year. That would be a good amount of business for either college town every two years.
The contract with Mile High is set to expire in the year 2020 and George hasn't ruled out revisiting the possibility of having Denver host the game sometime in the future.
"There's an opportunity to play in Denver that could make sense in the future, when you can fill the whole stadium and generate some revenue. That's not happening today and for an in-state rivalry it should be played on it's own campus. Not a venue neither team plays in consistently."
In five years, the series with be put on hiatus for at least a couple years until 2023. Colorado's non-conference schedule for the 2021 and 2022 seasons has been filled with UMass, Texas A&M, Minnesota, TCU and Air Force.
The Buffs have waited with anticipation for Saturday since losing last year's contest 31-17. Both teams come into this year's showdown with a 1-1 record and a lot to prove. Coach Mike MacIntyre hopes a win will give CU the momentum they'll need leading up to their Pac-12 Conference schedule. It would also equal the amount of total wins from last season.
The Rocky Mountain Showdown will be nationally televised on CBS Sports Network at 5 p.m. Mountain time on Saturday night (Sept. 19) and for the first time in school history the Buffs will be donning the all-white "Storm Trooper" uniforms.