One of the original AFL teams, the Denver Broncos have a long and storied history here
in Denver, and for the first 40 years of their existence they played at Mile High Stadium, a
converted and expanded baseball facility which had well outlived its usefulness. So six
counties in the greater Denver area formed a separate public agency - the Metropolitan
Football Stadium District, and charged this body with the task of building a new venue
for the Denver Broncos. And build it they did! Invesco Field at Mile High opened its doors
for business in late summer, and has received rave reviews so far.

Getting to the stadium

Invesco Field is located just west of downtown, and is separated from the downtown
core by the Platte River, Interstate 25, and a railroad line, but with all the open space
between the venue and the skyline, this stadium adds to an imposing cityscape which
also includes Denver's other sports venues - the Pepsi Center and Coors Field. If you
arrive from the south, you can actually see all three of these magnificent facilities
standing in a row right in your line of sight. Access to the stadium is fairly easy, with
plenty of roads off the interstate and downtown arterials. General parking is available on
the other side of the interstate, at the Pepsi Center, Six Flags and the Auraria Campus
for $10. While a bit of a walk, there is a well marked pedestrian trail and a bridge over
the river to get you to the stadium. More spaces will become available once the old Mile
High, located next door to the north, is demolished. North and west of Invesco Field is a
residential neighborhood, so maybe snag a spot on the street or park on a lawn as
several entrepreneurial neighbors sell parking spots as well.

Outside the venue

With massive parking lots, tailgating is in abundance and we got to see a lot of it - yes
footballs a tossin', burgers a grillin', vehicles decorated in their Broncos blue and
orange colors. As you make your way to the stadium, you will find the impressively
designed and landscaped grounds - rock gardens and sculptures, mosaic colored
walkways, and pillars recognizing the 38 classes of the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame.
On the south side is a beautiful sculpture of several horses charging up the slope in an
alpine mountain setting, nestled in a cascading waterfall type fountain. At the main
entrance on the west side is "Counties Gateway Plaza", a large public space with six
monuments honoring the counties who raised the funds for all of this, as well as
several large sculptures of pieces of various football equipment. From this vantage
point you can look north and get a great view of the Old Mile High Stadium, now
mothballed and awaiting demolition, and being dismantled seemingly one brick at a
time. The stadium itself is an imposing structure, modern and futuristic in design and
feel, colored bright silver and a roof line that mimics something out of the set of that old
cartoon "The Jetsons".

The concourses

Walking through the turnstiles you are greeted by the Broncos championship banners,
also heralding their two recent Super Bowl titles. The 100 level concourse is wide, easy
to navigate, and decorated with nice banners and well designed concessions. On one
sideline is an ESPN fantasy broadcast booth, where fans can sit at the anchor desk and
do their own Sportscenter telecast. Steps from the main entrance is the Colorado
Sports Hall of Fame, a museum saluting the state's sports icons (Why are these places
always shuttered on game day? We love this kind of stuff!). Getting to the upper deck is
easy with escalator towers on each sideline, making a stop at the club level and then
right on up to the upper deck. The upper deck concourses are open air, a bit congested
and narrow, but no matter which side you stand on, there is a great view, the best one
being on the east side facing downtown.

Premium seating

As with other new NFL venues, Invesco Field has a club level called the "United Club",
which has about 8500 seats and surrounds about 75% of the seating bowl. There are
also approximately 100 suites above the club level. These areas are served by their own
exclusive climate controlled concourse, offering upscale concessions and a pregame
buffet.

The seating bowl

One of the nicest features of this venue has to be the seating bowl. At just over 75,000
seats, the stadium has exactly one more seat than the old Mile High did. The seats are
almost all colored blue, save for the first few rows closest to the playing field, which are
colored orange. Another great feature here is that the end zone seats are built on metal
risers rather than concrete, and are also placed very close to the borders of the playing
field. All this to create the foot stomping thunder sound of the home crowd and disrupt
the visiting team. The signature of this building, however, has to be the Broncos logo
interwined into the seating color matrix in the upper deck seating of the north end zone.
Oh, did we mention scoreboards? Not one, not two, but THREE Mitsubishi video boards
are displayed here, the largest one being in the south endzone and the other two in the
north corners. In each of the four corners of the club level balcony are digital LED effects
boards, framed on the sidelines by backlit corporate logos of the stadiums major
sponsors.

Banners/retired numbers

Seems like the trend of displaying division/league titles is being relegated to the
corridors of these new venues. But the Broncos do maintain a heralded "Ring of Fame"
along the upper level balcony. Most recent inductees were Karl Mecklenburg and
Dennis Smith, and they join such prestigious company as Elway, Wright, Jackson,
Gradishar, Morton, Moses, Turner among other inductees.

Concessions

Just as at  Coors Field and the Pepsi Center, Invesco Field rolls out the finest in food
choices, grouping them along various themes and displaying concession stands with
nicely designed canopies and fascias. All have a Rocky Mountain theme, such as
"Rivers Edge", featuring beers from Colorado, "Colorado Fare", barbecue and Buffalo
meat products (yes there is even an item called "Polish Buffalo Sausage", a would be
top seller in Andrew's home town of Cheektowaga!). Add a mexican stand called the
"Red Zone", and a "Blitzburger Grill" featuring green chile fries and Bronco Brats. You
get the picture. Come here hungry... you won't be disappointed!

The main team store is on the south side of the stadium, and adjacent to the store is
the adminstrative lobby, with some great memorabilia, old pictures of Mile High, even
one pre-expansion shot when the minor league baseball Denver Bears were the toast
of the town!

Event presentation

We have to tip our hat here to the public address announcer, because he is the cog that
gets the folks into the game in a couple of unique ways.

Each time the visiting quarterback incompletes a pass, the fans finish off the sentence.
For example, the announcer will say "Flutie's pass to Tomlinson is.....". The fans
respond "IN -- COM -- PLETE!". How good is that?!

Broncos games are consistently sold out, and there is a waiting list for season tickets,
so a regular rite here is the announcement of the attendance tally. Keep in mind there
are 75,000+ seats here, so when the announcer says, "today's attendance is 73, 620,"
there is a big cheer. Then the announcer adds "that means that 1585 ticket holders did
NOT show for todays game!" The fans reply with a chorus of boos. Message to fans
everywhere --- NFL tickets are valuable commodities: if you can't go to the game get
them in to someone's hands who CAN go. Well said Denver fans, we like your style!

Touchdowns, extra points, fumbles

Touchdown - to the Denver Broncos for transporting the great statue of the standing
Bronco from the old stadium scoreboard and displaying it high atop the Invesco
scoreboard. A great signature piece and a link to their great tradition!

Touchdown - to the Broncos for stomping on those visiting San Diego Chargers. We are
Bills fans and fed up with our so called fellow Bills fans who have abandoned our team
because they now decided they are Flutie fans first and Buffalo fans second. We
enjoyed Doug Flutie's stay in Buffalo, but that was then and this is now, and it brought
joy to our hearts to see Flutie get intercepted 4 times and lead his team to defeat. That
should shut up those Flutie flakes around Buffalo who inundate sports talk radio in
Buffalo with their drivel.  One more chant from the road trippers for good measure ---
"Flutie's pass is..."..."IN-COM-PLETE"!

Extra point - As an agreement between the Broncos and the Stadium District, the team
must make 2500 seats for each game available at 1/2 price for single ticket buyers. To
avoid getting into the hands of scalpers, these seats are held at will call, and the ticket
buyer and his party must present themselves at will call and then walk directly into the
stadium. We were lucky to snag a couple of these tickets, and sat in the 200 level in the
corner. What a bargain!

Special acknowledgements

A tip of the hat to our good friend Frank Klawitter of Philadelphia, who flew in specially to
join us for this game. Along with his girlfriend Debbie Stickle of Colorado Springs they
met up with us in LODO for dinner the night before, and it was great hanging out with
them.

And again thanks to Matt Sugar of the Metropolitan Football Stadium District for that
great VIP tour back in June. Hey Matt -- your building is a real gem!

Summary

Denver, you did things right again! Your stadium is beautiful, and already is a great
showcase for your community. We appreciated the extra touches that added to the look
and feel of the venue, the attention to small details, the sculptures and decorations, and
the modern 21st century feel of the seating bowl. Perhaps the outside of the stadium
looks a bit too trendy and futuristic, and time will dictate whether this venue holds up as
an architectural marvel or an experimental design relic. But for now we would gladly
beat a path to your door again and again.

SCORING:
Architecture: 7
Food and team store 7
Scoreboard and electronics 8
Ushers 4
Fan support 8
Location and neighborhood 6
Banners and history 7
In game entertainment 8
Concourses/fan comfort 7
Bonus: Tailgate scene 2,  PA guy and fan chants 2, 1/2 price tickets 1
Total 67
Sports Auth Field at Mile High
#97



Invesco
Field at
Mile High     



Denver,
Colorado



November
11, 2001      




San Diego
Chargers
at
Denver
Broncos



(renamed
Sports
Authority Field
At Mile High,
2011 season)