By Jesse Sarles

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) – Voters in Fort Collins overwhelmingly approved a measure Tuesday night that requires city leaders to make a good-faith effort to attempt to purchase the land where Hughes Stadium once sat and turn it into open space. Colorado State University currently owns the land where the football stadium used to be and had planned for years to sell it to a developer, but city leaders put a wrench in those plans last year.

The stadium was demolished in 2018 and the university’s plan had originally been for the creation of hundreds single-family homes on the 165 acre site. But in May of 2020, a tie vote by the Fort Collins City Council meant rezoning the stadium property for construction would not move forward. The Loveland Reporter-Herald reported that the Colorado State University System then was considering whether to invoke a clause in state law that would allow the developer to build without needing permission from local officials.

(credit: CBS)

However, the CSU System will now have to consider an offer from the City of Fort Collins to purchase the land at fair market value. In the unofficial tally from Tuesday’s election, the voters approved the action by a 68% margin (27,787 voted yes, 12,714 voted no.)

Fort Collins City Manager Darin Atteberry told The Coloradoan that “it’s clear the property is near and dear to many in our community, and our voters have spoken.”

The language of the ballot measure was as follows:

Shall the City enact an ordinance requiring the City Council of the City of Fort Collins to immediately rezone upon passage of the ordinance a 164.56-acre parcel of real property formerly home to the Hughes Stadium from the Transition District to the Public Open Lands District, and requiring the City to acquire the property at fair market value to use said property for parks, recreation, and open lands, natural areas, and wildlife rescue and restoration, and further prohibiting the City from de-annexing, ceasing acquisition efforts or subsequently rezoning the property without voter approval of a separate initiative referred to the voters by City Council, and granting legal standing to any registered elector in the City to seek injunctive and/or declaratory relief in the courts related to City noncompliance with said ordinance?

See the full election results from Tuesday night at fcgov.com/elections/results.

Jesse Sarles