file photo / Daily Camera
Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer
Fund raising will always be a high priority for the Colorado athletic department, but generating revenue in other ways remains vital to the Buffaloes’ success.
Ideally, CU could land naming rights partners for Folsom Field, CU Events Center and other facilities on campus – a process that’s been ongoing for the past couple of years – but the Buffaloes are also trying to bring in more money through outside events and partnerships with local businesses.
Lance Carl, a former CU football player who has spent the past four and a half years as the associate athletic director for business development, is spearheading many of those efforts.
“(When hired in 2013) I wanted to kind of enhance our presence with the small and medium-sized businesses,” Carl said. “There’s some community initiatives and we’ve been able to work with the small and medium-sized business community, enhance our offerings and our events and tours that we do here with the business community.”
While the Champions Center, which opened in 2015, was built to serve the athletic department’s needs, it was also built with the community in mind.
“We wanted to have place for events in Boulder,” Carl said. “We wanted to maximize the use of space for not only our community on campus, but the Boulder community as well.
I think it’s been well received.”
CU is pleased with the number events – weddings, concerts, private functions, etc. – being held in the athletic facilities, but would like to do more.
During the 2014-15 fiscal year, CU netted $445,603 from outside events; for the 2017-18 fiscal year, CU budgeted a net of $983,300. CU would like to see that number grow even more in the coming years.
Carl is working to add more events, including a plan for a CU Corporate Cup in 2019. The concept would be similar to the San Antonio Sports Corporate Cup, which began in 2012 and pits local businesses against each other in competitions such as a 5K run, 3-vs-3 basketball, dodgeball, tug of war, golf chipping, Frisbee toss, etc.
“It’s health and wellness, it’s a team building concept and having those corporations coming here on campus,” Carl said. “It’s a half day event. It’s great for the community.”
In addition, Carl said the Buffs would like to hold more events, such as concerts at Folsom Field or CU Events Center, although there are challenges in doing so.
“We really only have a six-week window in the summer to do events (at Folsom Field),” Carl said.
That window coincides with the Colorado Shakespeare Festival (CSF). CU has to try to work around the CSF schedule, which isn’t easy. In fact, earlier this year, CU agreed to pay the CSF $150,000 to cancel a performance at the Mary Rippon Theatre on July 14 because it booked a Dead & Company concert at Folsom Field that night.
Dead & Company will close its tour this summer with performances at Folsom Field on July 13 and 14.
CU also had to pay CSF for a conflict in 2016, but Carl said the two groups are trying to work around each other.
“That’s been a challenge,” Carl said, “but they’ve been very receptive toward what we want to do here.”
Carl added that there are possibilities for other events at Folsom Field and CU Events Center throughout the year, and he’s hoping to get even more local businesses involved with CU athletics.
“You get so many new businesses that move into Boulder, whether they be small or medium-sized business and they don’t have a relationship with CU, they don’t have an affinity for CU,” he said, “but once they get up here and they get their eyes on what we have and the people that work here, they want to be a part of it.”