by John Hirn
CSU Athletic Historian
In 1899, an area of swampy wetlands was drained and leveled on the Colorado Agricultural College campus to provide athletic and military drill grounds, resulting in the first on-campus football field. In 1901, the complex was named Durkee Field, recognizing former CAC student Charles C. Durkee who donated money and materials to build a wooden fence around the grounds. Durkee Field was located where Glenn Morris Field House stands today. Although it was a crude and muddy place to play football, baseball or run track events, Durkee Field served as the CAC athletics home for 13 years.
In 1909, college president Charles Lory realized that Durkee Field needed to be replaced and in early 1910, made his first proposal to move the athletic field to a spot south of Durkee, along College Avenue. When Lory made his initial proposal to the State Board of Agriculture he was met with strong resistance as the Board did not want move the potato farm experiment station from the site of the proposed new field. Lory lobbied the SBOA for nearly two years until October of 1911 when the site was approved for a new athletic complex. Aided by new athletic director, Harry Hughes, the facility began to take shape. To expedite construction, a campus holiday was declared in May 1912 and all students helped to plow, seed and prep the land for a new field.
Opening in September 1912 for a scrimmage, Colorado Field boasted a 1,000-seat steel grandstand, locker rooms with hot and cold running water, a cinder track, two practice fields (one eventually becoming a baseball filed) and plenty of room to grow. The new facility was said to be the first football field in Colorado utilizing grass, becoming the envy of every school on the Front Range.
As years passed, Colorado Field received several upgrades including a 5,000-seat grandstand with press box. More seats were later added on the east side as the Aggies continued to win championships and garner national attention under legendary coach Harry Hughes.
By the mid-1920s, Athletic Director Hughes and Dr. Lory had laid out a master plan of how the school would build up its athletic facilities. Colorado Field would eventually be replaced and a new 20,000-seat stadium built on the former site of Durkee Field. Also included, a new gymnasium and field house constructed on the west side of the railroad tracks, across from Colorado Field. This concept was unsuccessful due to costs and an alternative plan took shape with the gym and field house constructed on top of the former Durkee Field site.
In 1925, AD Hughes pursued the concept of expanding Colorado Field by digging the field level down, adding more seats and then expanding upward. This would allow for a stadium that would rival those being built elsewhere. That concept never came to fruition. Instead, a small amount of bleachers were added to the existing structure.
The last varsity football game played on the Colorado State University campus, at Colorado Field, was a 43-11 victory over Wichita State on November 25, 1967. Starting with the 1968 season, CSU football game days moved to Hughes Stadium, located three miles west of campus, at the base of Horsetooth Reservoir. The grandstands at Colorado Field stood until the early 1970s and the original track remained until the early 1980s. In 1986, the old site of Colorado Field was rebuilt as Jack Christiansen Track, the current home to CSU’s track & field programs.