Chancellor Rebecca Chopp has endorsed the creation of a ‘DU District.’ Her vision, as outlined in her 2025 strategic plan, is to build a more cohesive, active community in and around DU to include the campus and the surrounding neighborhoods. The idea is to connect the University more closely with the community, create a distinct identity, and take an active role in the rapid growth of residential, commercial, and retail development surrounding University Park.
In the past, LetsGoDU has suggested ideas to increase attendance and improve the fan experience for all sports and improve every “gameday.” How is Chopp’s plan likely to affect DU athletics?
The DU District is envisioned as a 10-year plan so there are unlikely to be immediate benefits. Longer term, however, athletics will most certainly benefit with greater DU visibility, engagement and community involvement with the creation of a DU District.
In order to advance the idea, as outlined by the University of Denver Magazine , DU worked with the Urban Land Institute and university and neighborhood stakeholders to develop 13 recommendations. While nearly all recommendations would enhance the University and neighborhood experience, five of these proposals would offer a direct benefit to DU athletics:
- Create more campus gateways and entry points. Improved awareness of the University by the local Denver community and visitors could only be a plus. Today, many people drive by the University with little understanding of the campus layout and offerings. Navigating the campus and finding parking are equally confusing to newcomers.
- Utilize shuttles and encourage light rail for students, faculty, and visitors. Make an easy, pleasant experience for spectators to get in and out of an ever-increasingly dense neighborhood area.
- Work with developers to develop attractive campus and neighborhood housing options for students. Provide incentives to keep faculty and staff nearer campus. Bringing in and keeping DU stakeholders in the neighborhood creates a ‘reason to attend’ University activities.
- Improve retail and restaurant offerings near DU – starting with food trucks and pop-up retail. Then, move to brick and mortar. Again, creating a positive ‘customer experience’ can only improve the gameday experience and create repeat visitors. As the campus ‘experience’ improves, students are more likely to seek on-campus entertainment.
- Explore the feasibility of a hotel or conference center on or near the campus. The facility could be used to house visiting teams at a reduced cost as well as create a new visitor base for athletic events and entertainment within easy walking distance.
More important than these five tactical recommendations would be a better-integrated campus and neighborhood. An already beautiful campus will move to the next level as a rising tide lifts academics, culture, and, of course, athletics.