FORT COLLINS – CHSAA commissioner Mike Kruger couldn’t contain his excitement over the announcement he was about to make.

Rumors and reports had been circulating since CHSAA had announced a Thursday press conference at Colorado State University’s Canvas Stadium, but Krueger’s speech made everything official.

The Class 5A and 4A football state championship games will be moving to Fort Collins starting in 2023. The 3A championship game, which is contractually tied to CSU-Pueblo’s ThunderBowl for one more year, will also make the move in 2024. The 6-man, 8-man, 1A and 2A games will remain at CSU-Pueblo.

“This is a very big step for our association, and a very exciting one,” Krueger said.

It was announced as a multi-year partnership between the school and CHSAA. The Coloradoan reports that the deal is for five years.

This announcement marks the departure of the games from Empower Field at Mile High, where all but the 2020 5A and 4A championship games had been played since 2005. The 2020 games were moved to CSU-Pueblo due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The contract with Mile High, which represented a CHSAA partnership with the Denver Broncos and the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame, expired after the 2022 games.

“We’re proud to have called Empower Field at Mile High our home for the last 18 years,” Krueger said. “But with all things, there comes a time for change.”

Krueger said the association felt it had a responsibility to the member schools to explore other sites before entering into a new agreement. This was not an indication that CHSAA was determined to leave Mile High by any means. The association chatted with other facilities throughout the state and eventually got into contact with Canvas Stadium.

(Dan Mohrmann/

“There is a large responsibility as an organization to make sure we are acting in the best interest of all 365 of our schools,” Krueger said. “We had a very strong and very good partnership (with the Broncos and the CSHOF) and one that we still value greatly. But as any responsible organization would do, and as we do with all of our venues and agreements, we reached out and looked at what opportunities were out there.”

Once the conversation with CSU started, it became apparent to Krueger and the CHSAA staff that it was the best fit for what they were looking for.

Among the many appeals was the need to tie the games to a venue that will get high school students, whether they are football players or not, on a college campus. Krueger recounted his first time on a college campus which was the day he registered for, and started taking, his undergraduate classes.

Bringing students onto a college campus through the experience of a football game is a great way to promote those students to a post-secondary education.

“Partnering with other educational institutions is a natural alignment,” Krueger said. “We’re excited about that.”

The Broncos and the CSHOF have worked well with CHSAA for nearly two decades to put on top-notch events with the championship games. Per CSHOF president Tom Lawrence, the left-over revenue that the Hall of Fame had from those games was donated to youth sports each February.

“The partnership we have with both of those organizations remains incredibly strong,” Krueger said. “The Colorado Sports Hall of Fame continues to support youth sports in many ways and we are grateful for their help in promoting our events over the years.”

Krueger said there was little-to-no concern over attendance numbers which hovered around 10,000 per year at Mile High. Coming from a Western Slope atmosphere, he knows that communities will follow their teams when state championships are at stake.

Once the 3A game moves to Canvas in 2024, the three games will be played over the course of a single day, creating an all-day championship experience in Fort Collins.