The Colorado athletic department is hosting a groundbreaking Monday afternoon for its $143 million facilities project in and around Folsom Field, though no actual construction will be started.

I'm told athletic director Rick George is inching closer to the goal set by the regents of raising $47.6 million, one-third of the project's estimated cost, before construction can begin. But George isn't there yet.

While Monday's event will be purely ceremonial, unless a significant donation arrives over the weekend, it's still an important milestone for an athletic department and school that has fallen considerably behind its partners in the Pac-12 Conference in terms of basic amenities it is able to offer recruits and current student-athletes.

The Buffs are never going to catch up to Oregon and other schools around the country who have billionaire sugar daddies and/or decades worth of quality, focused fundraising efforts well coordinated with alumni associations and other groups. CU dropped the ball on that score along time ago and has been playing catch up ever since.

But when you combine the $143 million project with everything else the school and the Boulder-Denver area have to offer, it will go along way toward closing the Pacific Ocean-sized gap that exists between CU and some of these other schools when it comes to attracting recruits.


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When the project is completed in August 2015, assuming the fundraising is accomplished and construction actually begins pretty soon, the gap between what CU has to offer versus what its in-state rival up in Fort Collins has to offer will be further widened.

While CU is constantly trying to catch up to the perennial powers in college football, Colorado State is constantly trying to catch up to CU and other schools in similar positions to the Buffs.

Colorado State is hoping to build a new on-campus, $220 million football stadium and is in the silent phase of its fundraising efforts. It is supposed to raise $110 million by October in order to move forward.

The Fort Collins Coloradoan newspaper published a timeline of expected progress on the stadium last month showing the Rams likely won't play their first game in the stadium until fall 2020, and that is if fundraising and construction go smoothly with few if any delays.

If accurate, that means members of the 2015 recruiting class will come to CU with new and renovated facilities in place, and those recruits will play four seasons in Boulder with those facilities before CSU's project is ready for use. What's more, while the CSU stadium will be an obvious and major upgrade over dilapidated Hughes Stadium, it will seat only 38,000 fans — about 15,000 fewer than Folsom Field.

Assuming the new stadium in Fort Collins is full on a consistent basis — that's a major assumption based on CSU attendance figures from recent seasons — the facility will help the Rams close the gap on the Buffs and other schools because it simply isn't big enough to do so.

But count me as one who hopes Colorado State gets the job done because failing to do so could set the Rams back for decades to come.

It's really this simple when it comes to college athletics and particularly college football these days: You're either willing to pay the price that allows your school to remain competitive and climbing the ladder, or you aren't and you get stepped on by those who are passing you by.

Both CU and CSU already have been stepped on a little too much over the past decade. I'm happy to see both schools trying to put an end to it.