Colorado State University System, City and County of Denver, Western Stock Show Association, Denver Museum of Nature & Science, and History Colorado are the five founding partners of the National Western Center redevelopment. These five organizations started working together in 2013 to reimagine what the National Western Center could become, how to create a site that supported the Stock Show long-term, and how it could become a year-round destination.
Denver Water and Dumb Friends League have become major programmatic partners within the CSU buildings, and Together We Grow, the North American Agricultural Advisory Network (NAAAN), and the Salazar Center for North American Conservation will also be headquartered at CSU Spur. Partners are added regularly to the CSU Spur efforts, as well as the larger National Western Center redevelopment.
As Colorado’s land-grant institution, CSU was founded to make sure that knowledge within a university was shared for the public good. The National Western Center is an opportunity to enhance educational access to the public, allowing CSU to share educational opportunities more broadly and inspire the next generation.
The University is a natural fit with the National Western Center due to its long history with the National Western Stock Show, as well as its educational expertise and innovation in the areas of water, food, health, veterinary medicine, and sustainability.
In 2015, the Colorado legislature provided state funding of $200 million for CSU to build three facilities at the National Western Center: Vida, Hydro, and Terra. Another $50 million was allocated for the construction of complementary and support facilities on the CSU campus in Fort Collins: Health Education Outreach Center, Translational Medicine Institute, and Equine Vet Teaching Hospital.
With a future global population of more than 9 billion people with fewer resources and a changing climate, CSU Spur is focused on food, water, and health. Within CSU Spur, research and services will take place, and the public will be invited to watch them in-action. CSU Spur is a field-trip destination, a place for families to spend an inspiring afternoon, a place for professionals to find the perfect inspiration and a spot to meet, and a place to engage learners of all ages.
The National Western Center formed when several partners came together to make sure that the National Western Stock Show event stayed in Denver. To make this happen, the City & County of Denver proposed redeveloping the Stock Show site into a year-round destination and bringing in a variety of partners to make that happen. CSU System joined the project as the educational anchor and gained support from the Colorado legislature to build three buildings focused on public access to education and research on pressing world issues. Those three buildings make up CSU Spur, a non-degree granting campus within the larger National Western Center. As a System offering, CSU Spur will represent CSU Fort Collins, CSU Global, and CSU Pueblo, and be a platform for external partners to share programming with the public.
CSU System is actively seeking strategic partnerships for the CSU Spur campus. Community is core to CSU Spur, and is committed to educational access and meaningful community engagement. CSU System has committed to an Anchor Institution framework at CSU Spur, and is working with schools and nonprofits in the surrounding communities to provide academic and economic opportunities through the CSU Spur campus.
The National Western Citizens Advisory Committee is made up of local residents who helped shape the site’s Master Plan.
CSU System has a long-standing commitment to the neighborhoods and organizations in the areas surrounding the CSU Spur campus, and is committed to being a good neighbor. The University has developed more than 15 partnerships with local organizations and schools, and has taken the approach of getting to know – and listening to – the community, supporting the multitude of assets in the community already.
The CSU Spur Scholarship reflects the commitment that CSU has to the neighboring communities of Globeville and Elyria-Swansea, as any first-time student from the 80216 zip code is eligible for the need based scholarship of up to $2,500/year for four years to any of the CSU System colleges: CSU Fort Collins, CSU Pueblo, or CSU Global.
The CSU Spur campus will offer experiential educational opportunities for all ages, including food systems discovery, river-based water research, and animal and human health offerings. CSU System aims to contribute programming that provides a positive local and global impact.
CSU Spur’s begins opening buildings in January 2022, and all three buildings will be open by November 2022.
The first CSU Spur building to open is Vida, which is focused on animal and human health. It will open during Stock Show events in January. Within Vida, visitors are invited to watch dogs and cats in surgery, see horses assist in human therapy sessions, and watch horses strengthen and recover their bodies in underwater treadmills. Read more about Vida here.
In January 2022, Terra will be partially open — and the full building will be open to the public by the first quarter of 2022. Terra is focused on food and agriculture and will be home to vertical gardens, a cooking kitchen, taste testing lab, green roof, and rooftop greenhouses.
The final CSU Spur building to be completed is Hydro, which will focus on water, and be home to the new Water Quality Lab for Denver Water, classrooms, large flexible event and learning spaces, artist studios, and will have outdoor connectivity to the South Platte River. Hydro will be open in November 2022.
No. As a public institution CSU System cannot compete with outside entities. All of the services provided at CSU Spur will be delivered in collaboration with professional and/or nonprofit groups.
The restoration of the South Platte River, which flows adjacent to the CSU Spur campus, is a key component of the National Western Center campus.
The “backyard” at Hydro will showcase watersheds of Colorado through its landscaping, and the outdoor space connects to the South Platte River – allowing students to take river samples as part of their educational experience. The river activation plan is underway, and may include bike and walking paths, native landscaping, artwork, and educational components.
Sewer lines blocked access to the riverfront until they were replaced and buried in early 2021. The larger National Western Center will pull heat from the lines to generate up to 90% of the energy for the National Western Center campus. This sewer-heat recovery system will be the largest in North America.
The McConnell building was purchased by the CSU System and will be renovated into artist studios and open community spaces that connect to the CSU Spur Hydro building. The Livestock Exchange Building next to CSU’s Terra building is a historic element of the site, and was purchased by the National Western Center Authority in 2020. The Authority plans to restore the building and welcome mission-driven tenants. The Armor & Company Building, north of Vida, is owned by the City and will remain as part of the National Western Center. The legendary Stockyard Saloon (or Yard Bar) will also remain … hopefully with an influx of new customers!
National Western Stock Show: the annual event that brings together agricultural interests and has ~750,000 attendees from around the world. The event has been happening in Denver since 1906, and when the event organizers were thinking about moving it away from Denver due to aging facilities, the city got together with Stock Show, CSU System, History Colorado, and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science to reimagine the space and create a plan for the National Western Center to keep the Stock Show on the historic site for the next 100 years, and create a year-round Denver destination.
National Western Center: the redevelopment project is a 250-acre site called the National Western Center; it will host the National Western Stock Show each year and be a year-round destination for concerts, conferences, farmers markets, and more. The National Western Center staff will program the events on the campus (~2.2 million square feet of space), with the exception of CSU Spur’s three buildings.
CSU Spur: the educational anchor within the National Western Center destination; CSU Spur is a non-degree granting campus focused on bringing experiential education to the public in its three buildings: Vida, Terra, and Hydro. The campus brings the resources of all the CSU System institutions: CSU in Fort Collins, CSU Pueblo, and CSU Global to the public and will open 2022. CSU Spur focuses on research and innovation and puts everything “on-display” to inspire the next generation to learn about food, water, and health, and consider career pathways in those fields.