Supporters of playing the Rocky Mountain Showdown in Denver every year received a small gust in their sails when the football game between Colorado and Colorado State attracted the largest crowd since 2008 Friday night.
The announced attendance of 63,363 was the first crowd to eclipse 60,000 since 2010.
As usual, Colorado sold the most tickets, moving 32,480, but that represented a decrease of 299 tickets on CU's side compared to last season's game. CSU was responsible for the bulk of the increase by moving 26,774 tickets, an increase of more than 3,000 tickets on the Rams' side. The Denver Broncos moved 4,109, an increase of nearly 700 from last year.
CSU has increased its tickets distributed by more than 8,500 since selling only 18,169 for the 2012 game.
The contracts between the schools, the stadium and the sports commission call for the next five games in the series to be played in Denver through the 2019 season and the game in 2020 to be played in Fort Collins.
While it's unlikely those contracts would be reworked at this point, especially with CSU in the process of looking for its next athletic director, both CU athletic director Rick George and representatives of the sports commission said they plan to review the performance of the game in the coming weeks and months. George and the sports commission representatives spoke to the Daily Camera about the game earlier this week.
George faces a large percentage of his fan base that dislike the game being played in Denver, mostly because fans don't often get to sit in similar seats to those they own in Folsom Field without having to pay a higher ticket price.
"We are evaluating the game but will do so after the game," George said on Wednesday.
Disgruntled fans aren't the only motivation George might have for getting out of the game in Denver. Neither school is making the kind of revenue that attracted them to move the game to Denver in the first place because there have been so many unsold seats in the first five years of the deal.
There are two clauses in the agreement with the sports commission that give both sides a way out between the 2014 and 2015 games. If the clauses are not exercised, the agreement automatically extends to the second five-year period.
Sources said it's highly unlikely the out clause available to the schools will even be valid because it features easily achievable benchmarks for revenue for the sports commission.
The sports commission can opt out of the contract if the schools aren't selling a minimum of 80 percent of the stadium through the first five seasons of the deal. And the schools can opt out if the sports commission isn't averaging at least $250,000 in net revenue annually.
Richard Grant, communications director for the sports commission, would not comment on whether the commission averaged $250,000 in the first four years of the deal.
The commission likely could opt out of the agreement if it chose to because the schools have attracted crowds of 80 percent or more of the stadium's capacity only twice in the first five years. The five-year announced attendance is 79 percent of the stadium capacity for five seasons, but the contract uses turnstile count and not tickets sold.
"It's not a decision that is made in a bubble," said Deborah Park, associate director of communications for the sports commission. "It's a decision that is made by a group of people. ...We want it to be a decision that is good for all parties. So it will be a discussion following the game."
If either side decides to opt out, it would have to provide written notice to the other parties by Nov. 1.
Colorado players have the weekend off after losing Friday's game to the Rams. The Buffs will return to the practice fields Monday morning and will depart on Thursday for next Saturday's game at Massachusetts. ...The Minutemen lost their season opener in Gillette Stadium to Boston College on Saturday.