By Dillon Thomas

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4)– Fifty years after Colorado State University built Hughes Stadium along the foothills of Horsetooth Reservoir, construction crews started demolition of the iconic football stadium.

Crews started demolition of the stadium on the west end, ripping down the press box and club seating, before moving on to the rest of the structure on Friday.

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“We had a lot of good times out here,” said Linnea Wilson, a longtime supporter of CSU Football.

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Wilson and her husband Hal watched as crews used large machinery to demolish the structure. The couple said they watched the university build the stadium in the late 1960s, adding they spent many of their Saturdays in their season ticket Hughes seats.

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“Back in the day, when we couldn’t beat anybody, she and I seemed like we were the only ones in there waiving our pennant back and forth,” Hal Wilson said.

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The university closed Hughes before the 2017-2018 school year, after completion of their controversial on-campus stadium, which now serves as the home venue for the Rams. The new stadium, when proposed, received some criticism from many in the Fort Collins community.

PHOTO GALLERY: Hughes Stadium Demolition

The Wilsons said they were not fans of the original plan to leave Hughes.

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“I guess there were problems with it, but it didn’t show,” Linnea Wilson said. “We just watched them tear down where we were sitting.”

In a statement issued to CBS4, the university confirmed plans to develop the property. The university said they planned to either sell, or lease, the land for development, pending public input.

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The 160-acre property is expected to be cleared, and ready for possible sale, by the end of November 2018. Crews were expected to recycle as much of the old facility as possible.

Many passing by as crews tore the stadium down shared their memories, saying they grew up spending their weekend in the western-Fort Collins stadium.

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“Bring in the new, out with the old. But, (I am) kind of holding on to the memories at this point,” said Julia Lyons, a resident who said she visited the stadium often as a child.

Others said the university was tearing down a Fort Collins landmark.

“It would be like getting rid of Wrigley Field,” said Kyle Reynolds, a Fort Collins resident.

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Many of those who watched, as the crews worked to bring down the stadium, said they were simply there to wish Hughes a final farewell.

“It is just kind of sad to see it go, but we are impressed with the new one,” Hal Wilson said.

Dillon Thomas is a reporter at CBS4 and a Colorado native. He believes everyone has a story, and would love to share yours! You can find more of his stories by following him on Twitter, @DillonMThomas.