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Official Review by Rich Kurtzman, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
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.
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".
For the most part, the food and drink that is featured at DSGP seems like standard stadium fare, but it's all that and more.
Stadium Grill stands are cash only and offer Bigfoot Hot Dog ($6.75) and Bigfoot Bratwurst ($7.00), peanuts ($3.75), beers (16oz domestic or 12oz "specialty" both $6.25) and bottled water ($3.50) and soda ($4.50).
FanFare concession stands also sell hot dogs and brats, along with personal pan pizzas and burritos ($4.50), wine, mixed drinks and margaritas.
The "I Like it Hot, Hot, Hot" stands make wood fired pizzas, while Grille Works has hamburgers, chicken sandwiches, French fries and more. "Smiling Moose Deli" sells grinders and the cocktails and beers stand at sections 107-108 is a must visit for those wanting an adult beverage or two. They sell some 10-plus kinds of canned/bottled beers including domestics ($6.25), microbrews ($7.25) and 24oz Heineken cans for $9 a piece. Cocktails run at $6.50 each, margaritas are $7 and frozen cocktails are available as well.
The atmosphere at Dick's Sporting Goods Park is cool and unique because it is part of the massive complex where many varieties of people and skill levels come to congregate. Then, after their amateur games, youth and adults alike can take in a professional, Major League contest.
DSGP definitely has a family friendly atmosphere, while the rowdies in the north end zone keep cheering and chanting all game long. Also, a cannon blasts after scores while LCD light boards encourage fans to "Make Some Noise."
There's a fun, upbeat feeling to the crowd at Dick's Sporting Goods Park and it's a great place to take in an MLS game.
DSGP is located in Commerce City, a suburb of Denver, just nine miles north of LODO and the neighborhood immediately surrounding the park is still a bit undeveloped.
That isn't necessarily a knock on the neighborhood though, as the park sits adjacent to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge. And if you think the park and its 24 fields is huge, the wildlife refuge overshadows its size by many times.
Across Quebec Street from the stadium is a steak house/pub called Shifters which offers steaks, burgers and more.
Charlotte's Web Restaurant and Lounge, about a mile and a half from the stadium, has American and Mexican cuisine and is great for watching games of any type. They have multiple big HD TVs, pool and even horseshoe pits in the back of the bar.
Whenever there was action, a slide challenge, a big shot or a precise pass; the crowd reacted with a cheer. And when Colorado scored, the fans went wild.
The north end of the stadium is where the Mile High City's version of soccer "hooligans" are located. The fans (mostly young adults) stand on platforms that are at field level - some with drums others with megaphones - singing, dancing and chanting the night away while living the experience. They're more like a college football student section than any other part of DSGP and they help keep the energy up in the whole stadium.
What was interesting about the Rapids fans was how diverse a fanbase they have.
There were families of all races, groups of teenagers, rowdy young adults as well as middle aged and older people at DSGP. It's tremendous how the Rapids have incorporated the community by including the surrounding fields and it makes it very convenient for families to attend professional contests after watching a family member's amateur game.
As part of the construction of the park, Kroenke Sports also updated the infrastructure in the surrounding area, widening Quebec Street to give it the ability to hold more cars for pre and post-game traffic.
The location of Dick's Sporting Goods Park is close to the intersection of I-70 and I-270 and isn't far from I-25, the main north-south interstate in Colorado.
If you live in Denver, I'd suggest taking Quebec north to 64th Avenue, which is where the entrance to the park is, or another route north when the traffic is bad (Colorado Blvd. or Monaco St. work well).
Games are reasonably priced, parking is free (imagine that) and the stadium is state-of-the art.
You can walk around the open feeling concourse and take in the game from anywhere, including the covered tables on the south west end of the stadium. I suggest walking across the unique pedestrian bridge that connects the east and west stands.
All seats are 20 rows from the field at the farthest (unless you're in one of the 20 fancy luxury suites) and DSGP provides an intimate setting for a MLS game.
The 24 fully-lit fields are the biggest extra, and they take the stadium over the top compared to others. Kids can come and play on one, then watch a match on the professional pitch while dreaming of being there themselves one day.
Dick's has the biggest LCD video scoreboard screen and the most LCD boards for a stadium its size, and they do a good job of following the game and adding replays and stats etc.
The Cantina, which is located on the south end of the stadium, is set up just like a bar in downtown Denver or anywhere else. The doors of the Cantina open two and a half hours before gametime and you don't have to have a ticket to go in. Plus, you can actually see the field from the outdoor patio seats.
Lastly, there was even some tailgating going on, as a good sized party of people were drinking cold beverages and eating grilled food before the match.
Rich Kurtzman is a Colorado State University Alumnus and a freelance journalist. Along with being the Colorado/Utah Regional Correspondent for Stadium Journey, Kurtzman is the Denver Nuggets and Denver Broncos Featured Columnist for bleacherreport.com and the CSU Rams and Fort Collins Beer Bars Examiner for examiner.com.
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5797 Quebec St
Commerce City, CO 80022
5271 E 52nd Ave
Commerce City, CO 80022
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6290 Tower Rd
Denver, CO 80249