The Colorado Rapids were one of the 10 original members of Major League Soccer when the league launched in 1996. Formed as a promise to FIFA officials after the United States hosted the FIFA Men's World Cup in 1994, MLS represents the most recent - and successful - attempt to bring professional, 11 on 11 soccer to the US. The team is owned by Stan Kroenke, a real estate magnate who also owns the St. Louis Rams, Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche, and is the largest shareholder for London based Arsenal Football Club. The Rapids only major success came in 2010 when they won the MLS Cup, the trophy awarded to the team that wins the end of season playoff.
The Rapids original home was the legendary Mile High Stadium. They moved with the Denver Broncos to Invesco Field at Mile High in 2002, and in 2004 began planning to move into a soccer-specific stadium. An expansive site next to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge in nearby Commerce City was chosen.
The entire complex at Dick's Sporting Goods Park includes the primary soccer stadium, as well as 24 additional fields used for youth soccer development. "The Dick" also has some history for US Soccer, hosting World Cup qualifier matches in 2009 and 2013. The 2013 World Cup Qualifier match against Costa Rica has a special place in American soccer lore - the 1-0 USA victory has been dubbed the "Snow Clasico" for the blizzard like conditions throughout the match.
Dick's Sporting Goods Park has 18,061 seats for soccer matches, with capacity increasing to 26,000 for concerts. It has a single tier of seating in a horseshoe shape, with suites and other specialty seating areas above the west stands. There is also a Supporters Terrace, a standing room only area set at field level behind the north goal.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The food at DSG Park is pretty standard for professional tier stadiums these days. The standard entrees are all present - burgers, hot dogs, nachos, chicken tenders. They do offer a cheesesteak, and the garden salad seems a solid choice if you are counting calories.
Snack items are also fairly standard. The bottomless popcorn may sound appealing, but the non-bottomless version comes in a fairly large bucket, so I'd advise sticking to the cheaper single serving unless you are feeding a small army.
One stand-out item is the Mmmini Donuts. These freshly fried bite size donuts are tossed in your choice of sugar, cinnamon, or both, and can even be topped with syrup and other amazing things. If you've been to the Pepsi Center, you've smelled these donuts throughout the concourse. They are quite affordable too - $5.00 will get you a bag of donuts tossed in a sweetener, while $6.00 will get you the "loaded" variety including chocolate syrup and marshmallow fluff.
Another bright spot is the Eighteen76 bar behind the South goal. Named for the year that Colorado became a state, Eighteen76 opens two hours before the game and closes an hour or so after the game ends. They offer most of the beers that are otherwise scattered around the concourse, as well as hard liquor. There is also a concession stand with some unique items including a BBQ chicken basket, wings, and a turkey & veggie wrap. The pub itself offers no view of the action on the field, but the TVs spread throughout the area will keep you locked into the game.
Finally, the beer. Beer is a passion of many Colorado sports fans, but unfortunately the selection here is a bit lacking. 16oz pours of Budweiser and Coors light are available, while a "premium" pour will get you Heineken, Shock Top or one of the Odell flagship beers (during my visit, I saw mostly Easy Street Wheat with a sprinkling of 90 Shilling around the park). Cans from Budweiser, Heineken, a few English ales, Dale's Pale Ale and a few varieties of Mexican cerveza give more options. But beyond the generic macro brews and a couple of ordinary craft offerings, there isn't much here.
Burger Basket - $8.25 Hot Dog - $6.00 Cheesesteak - $8.00 Nachos - $5.25 Chicken Tender Basket - $8.00 Garden Salad - $6.00 Pizza - $8.00
Popcorn - $5.00 Bottomless Popcorn - $7.50 Peanuts - $4.25 Candy - $4.00 32oz Fry Cup - $6.50 16oz Fry Cup - $4.00 Snow Cone - $4.50
Season ticket holders enjoy special discounts on specific food items - see details below under Return on Investment.
The beautiful game lends itself to a vibrant stadium atmosphere. With a running clock and minimal stops in game action, there is little opportunity to get distracted from the action on the field. This lets you be treated to the crowd reacting to nifty footwork, questionable calls from the referees, and acrobatic saves from both goalkeepers. DSG Park also features a special Supporter's Section - complete with standing room only seats, a percussion section, and coordinated chants - the evidence of which can be heard throughout the stadium. Populated by the Centennial38, the rhythmic drum beats can be heard throughout the stadium and make it an experience unique from most professional American leagues and is far more enjoyable than hearing the latest Katy Perry song for the 100th time. There is even a small area designated as the visiting team Supporter's Section, a nice touch that adds to the ambient noise around the park.
At Stadium Journey, we frequently comment on the quality of the in-game entertainment and PA announcers in this section. As soccer has very few stoppages of action, these elements don't exist as they do in other sports, letting the fans get immersed in the game. It isn't uncommon to glance at the clock and realize 20 minutes of game action have passed without notice - a welcome change from 4 minute television timeouts. If you need T-shirt cannons, scoreboard games and mascot antics to keep small children entertained, be advised that a lot of these elements are missing.
Located in Commerce City and adjacent to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge, the stadium was built in a wide open area. While the area can support retail and residential development, it appears that none are in the works.
Dick's Sporting Goods Park is much more than the soccer-specific MLS stadium - there is an entire complex dedicated to soccer throughout the state, with 24 soccer fields arrayed around the area. Tournaments are frequently hosted at this location, but the ample parking means that there is almost no worry about an overlap causing traffic or parking problems.
Soccer fans are known for being knowledgeable and passionate about "the beautiful game." Rapids fans are no different - many bring team colored scarves and hold them as the teams come out before kickoff, and the vocal Supporters Group is reminiscent of a vociferous college football student section more than anything else.
The fans also use the opportunity to show their support for their home or favorite soccer team. While I saw many Rapids and Galaxy jerseys around, there were many Barcelona, Chelsea, PSG, and even a Greece national team jersey in attendance. The winner for most ubiquitous jersey was Steven Gerrard, the Liverpool legend playing in his 3rd MLS game for the Galaxy.
The community atmosphere combined with plentiful parking leads to a lot of tailgating. The official Rapids Supporter's Group, Centennial38, hosts a massive tailgate before each game outside the south gates. Members grill hot dogs and burgers and provide paper plates and plastic silverware. Kegs from local breweries are on hand. Anyone can attend the tailgate and enjoy the spread, but C38 encourages donations to support the group and future tailgates. Fans can bring food to share in lieu of a donation. Even if it is your first game, I encourage stopping by to enjoy some food and mingle with very approachable superfans.
While the stadium isn't near any of the major population centers of the Denver metro area, the proximity to Interstate 70 means it is a short to medium range drive for anyone in the area. There are currently no mass transit options, but a future Light Rail line hugging Interstate 70 may prove to be a viable alternative. Parking is free and abundant, so a carpool and tailgate plan would check a lot of boxes for many fans.
Ticket prices are as you'd expect, ranging from $29 behind the north goal to $55 for the prime seats on the west side along the halfway line. If standing and singing with the Centennial38 sounds like your kind of party, a ticket to the Supporter's Terrace directly behind the north goal will cost you $20.
Season ticket holders, in addition to getting discounted tickets and early access to the stadium, also have access to some concession items for $5. This includes the Chicken Tender Basket, the Burger Basket, Pizza, and Cheesesteaks. Domestic beer, soda and water are also a flat $4 at all stands. This program is incredible - as a season ticket holder for other sports, it was always a small punch in the gut to spend another $15-$20 on food and drink at the game on top of the ticket price. Offering reduced prices on food and drink for some of your most dedicated supporters is a brilliant idea and something I hope more teams implement.
There are promotion packages available for select games. A Coca-Cola branded package will get you a ticket to the game, a Coke and a meal for only $24. An Odell Brewery branded deal gets you a ticket, a 90 Shilling beer (recommended!) and a "premium item" for $30. Local 7-11 convenience stores also offer vouchers that can be redeemed at the box office on game day for $15 southeast corner tickets. The section is on the small side, so show up early to guarantee the cheapest ticket in the park.
Because the stadium is small and has only one tier of seating, there isn't a bad seat in the house. The east side can get a bit warm due to the setting Colorado sun, so pick the west side if you need some shade. The Supporter's Section is a blast and economical if you don't mind constant drums and songs.
While most venues use the parking lots of nickel and dime patrons, The Dick offers free parking. The parking lots are a great environment for tailgating, and you are sure to make friends by arriving early and saving on food and drink costs by camping out in the parking lot.
Before each game, Burgundy Boulevard to the south of stadium is closed off for live music and soccer minigames. A local band or DJ will be on the stage playing music, while kids can enjoy facepainting or testing their accuracy with a soccer ball. All free, and a perfect stop on your way to Eighteen76 or the entry gates.
The Rapids have done a great job providing options to fans. If you want an all-inclusive club level experience, the Summit Club is for you. If you want to sing your heart out and enjoy tailgate food, you could do worse than following the Centennial38 Supporters Club. If you want to bring your family out on a lovely Colorado summer evening, the ticket packages and pregame entertainment on Burgundy Boulevard would be perfect to you. If you want to relax before or after the game in a bar setting, then Eighteen76 works great. Kudos to the Rapids and Dick's Sporting Goods Park for offering all of these options to the fans.
Like the other local Kroenke Sports teams, the Rapids use Flashseats, a convenient way to enter the stadium similar to the e-ticket system used by most airlines. Once you've purchased a ticket, you can get through the gates by swiping a credit card (for identity verification) or scanning a QE code generated by the Flash Seats app on your phone. The Flash Seats app and website also offer a digital marketplace for buying and selling of tickets. I recommend checking the app for the game you want to attend - it is likely you'll be able to buy tickets from another fan for much less than the listed box office price.
Between the in-game atmosphere, discounted ticket packages and pregame tailgate party, the Centennial38 Supporter's Group deserves extra points. They really elevate the experience in many facets and make it a special trip.
Colorado summers can get quite warm. The Rapids allow you to bring a water bottle that is clear and 32oz or less. You can refill the bottle inside the stadium to stay hydrated and keep your wallet full.
Residents of Colorado are famous for our affinity of the outdoors. The nearby mountains offer a wealth of kayaking, camping, hiking, and biking options. The city parks are packed throughout the summer with people enjoying the nice weather and beautiful scenery. Dick's Sporting Goods Park offers a great outdoor experience, perfect for someone looking to enjoy some sunshine and slide tackles.
Dick's Sporting Goods Park is more than just a professional sports stadium, it's a soccer mecca.
DSGP is a soccer complex whose size is unmatched by any other in the world, and the quality of the fields are likely among the greatest as well.
Of the 24 soccer fields that surround the main stadium, 23 of them are used by the public for a variety of events and one is the Rapids' practice field. The fields offer a wonderful place to practice and play not only soccer (the Colorado Rapids Soccer Academy, the Rapids Adult Soccer League, the Arsenal Center of Excellence) but a multitude of other sports as well including; lacrosse, rugby, American football, hurling, kickball and dodge ball. Every one of the 24 fields are lit-up for night play and as Jason Gillham told me, "We also have two artificial turf fields that can be used year-round."
The Rapids celebrated their 15th anniversary in 2010 and their beautiful stadium, which has a modern feel outside and in, was completed in 2007.
The roofs that cover the East and West echo the Rocky Mountains as they rise to a peak at midfield, and they are supposed to also resemble the tectonic plates that helped form the Rockies in the ancient past.
Dick's Sporting Goods Park seats 18,186, and while it may not be the biggest MLS stadium it is without a doubt one of the finest in soccer specific-stadiums in the United States.
Everything is seemingly state-of-the-art including the big jumbotron, the bar and restaurant on the south end and the massive indoor-outdoor press box.
One of the founding members of Major League Soccer (MLS), the Rapids played at Mile High Stadium from 1996 until 2001; continued playing at Invesco Field at Mile High Stadium in 2002 till 2006; and finally moved to their own brand new soccer venue (Dick’s Sporting Goods Park) in 2007.
Dick’s Sporting Goods Park (DSGP) is a soccer complex whose size is the largest professional stadium and field complex in the world and the quality of the fields are likely among the greatest. Of the 24 fully-lit soccer fields that surround the main stadium, 23 of them are used by the public for a variety of events and one is the Rapids' practice field. The atmosphere at Dick's Sporting Goods Park is unique because it is part of the massive complex where many varieties of people and skill levels come to congregate.
It is located nine miles north of Denver in the suburb of Commerce City, CO.
Dick’s Sporting Goods Park also hosts concerts with the likes of Kenny Chesney and Phish. Major international soccer events also take place at the venue and the MLS All-Star Game was held here in 2007. The 2014 Federation of International Lacrosse Men's World Championship took place at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in July, 2014. And, the Mile High Music Festival (a two-day event) is held every July at the complex.
The Colorado Rapids (named for the torrent, whitewater, down rush of the Colorado River) won the prestigious MLS Cup in 2010.
5797 Quebec St
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