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.
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".
There are nine permanent concession stands as well as assorted carts throughout the concourse. The permanent concessions stands include Grill Works, Pitch Pub, and Marco's Pizza and are located on the concourse above the sidelines.
Grill Works offers double burger basket, chicken sandwich or chicken tender basket, hot dog, french fries (from $3.75 - $8.00). For the baskets, one can order fries or a salad, which is a nice option. Other snacks include candy, popcorn, cracker jacks, pretzels, etc. and range from $2.00 - $4.50. Beverages include 20oz domestic beer (mostly Budweiser products for $7.25), soda (Coca Cola products), bottled water, iced tea, and for those chilly spring or fall games, hot chocolate and coffee.
Marco's Pizza offers pizza by the slice or the pie as well as several other Italian favorites.
Pitch Pub provides Colorado based Odell Brewery ales such as 90 Shilling. It's a good alternative to the traditional Budweiser products offered throughout the rest of the stadium concession stands.
Concession carts include cotton candy, sno-cones, kettle corn, Dippin' Dots ($3.00 - $6.00), Rita Cabana ($10 for a 25oz Rita), and beef cheesesteak grill carts.
Lines can be very long especially during halftime. Clear plastic bottled water containers (32oz or less) are permitted into the stadium.
There is an Eighteen76 sports bar located on the south side between gates D and E. It has a full bar, some draft beers (Shock Top, Bud, Bud Light, and Stella) and offers food such as smokehouse barbecue sandwich, monster chicken nachos, the Eighteen76 burger, chicken burrito, caesar salad with chicken, spicy chicken wings ranging from $7.50 - $8.50. It is typically open two hours before the game and closes an hour and a half after a Rapids game. It's just an okay place to hang out before the game or after while waiting for traffic to subside.
There are many gates in which to enter the venue. Each is equally fine to enter so choose the one closest to your parking spot. Or walk around the entire exterior of the venue to get your steps in and witness the many tailgating sites and sounds. The roadway around the stadium is closed for a Rapids game so, for the most part, you won't have to worry about dodging traffic once you get parked.
The east side (sections 100 to 113) is in the direct sun at an evening game. Be sure to bring your sun glasses, sun screen, and a camera as you will probably see a remarkable sunset sitting in those sections. The sections in the west side (the shade) are 136 to 122 with sections 128/129 at center field. The team benches and officials are along this side as well.
There are 17 loge style suites on the second level of the west side as well as an indoor/outdoor press box. There is an open concourse with a 360 degree view of the field and playing surface.
The sideline seating consists of gray plastic fold down seats with cup holders available and plenty of leg room. The corner seating areas of the venue are bleachers with backs. Within the sideline gray seats, the word COLORADO is spelled out using white fold down seats on both sides.
There is a very formidable opening ceremony with players from both teams slowly entering the field at the same time holding hands with children with both teams showing dignity and respect for each other, the game and the fans.
A one of a kind pedestrian bridge connects the two sidelines enabling the 360 degree tour of the venue. Many fans stand on the bridge to watch the game. The Centennial 38 Supporter's Group section is below this pedestrian bridge.
Fortunately, a Rapids soccer game does not have the loud music and endless advertisements broadcasted at say a baseball game, so you actually get to watch the game with the only noise being the fans. Goals and player substitutions are called over the PA and are understood for those keeping score.
Currently, there are no hotels or restaurants within walking distance (1/2 mile) of Dick's Sporting Goods Park. There are future plans for adding hotels, retail shops, and restaurants within the area.
One recommended restaurant within a few miles (driving) is El Jardin (New Mexican/Mexican - yummy) and it is worth a try.
Dick's Sporting Goods Park is located nine miles northeast of downtown Denver and only fifteen miles from Denver International Airport.
The Embassy Suite Hotel Denver - Stapleton offers complementary transportation to/from the DIA airport as well as to/from Dicks Sporting Goods Park (call to see if shuttle is available to the game before making any travel arrangements). The Double Tree Denver Hotel and the Marriott Denver City Center (official team hotel of the Rapids) are also an option. None are within walking distance and the Marriott is closest to downtown Denver.
If shopping is your thing, the Shops at Northfield Stapleton are less than two miles away. The shopping center offers retail outlets, restaurants, and a movie theatre.
Adjacent to the park is the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge which is nearly 17,000 acres, making it one of the largest urban wildlife refuges in the United States. It consists of open lakes, wetlands, prairie grasslands, and woodlands.
If flying in, best option is stay at the downtown hotels, catch a shuttle to/from the airport and to/from the sporting venue (this may be a taxi). Then visit many of the downtown Denver attractions.
The average attendance has definitely gown since the Rapids began play; from 10,213 in 1996 to 15,440 in 2013. On average, the team has had an attendance of 14,049 for the regular season, and 8,731 for playoff games.
The fans (of all ages) are quite educated on the rules of soccer and their team. They cheer, moan, applaud, and gasp at all the appropriate times. And, they display their scarves with pride.
There is a Supporters Terrace (recently upgraded for the supporters group) behind the north goal and is one of the C38 Supporters' sections. On February 9, 2013, the leaders of Class VI, the Pid Army, and the Bulldog Supporters Groups announced that they would combine into one group going forward: Centennial 38 Supporters Group (C38 SG for short); Centennial - because Colorado became a state in the 100th year of the US and 38 because it was the 38th state in the union.
They wave flags, sing songs and chants, beat drums and toss confetti in celebration throughout the entire game. They host a tailgate party on the south side of DSGP prior to every game and it is open to all fans. A $5 donation is requested.
Tailgating can be found throughout all the parking lots at DSGP.
The visitor's support group section is 100 almost adjacent to the C38 Supporters Terrace. There does not appear to be any animosity between the home supporters group and the visiting team's group. There are rules for when and where to enter the stadium and what is or what is not allowed to be brought in if you're a part of either team's support group, so check the website prior to visiting DSGP.
Getting to the venue is relatively easy, though if traveling from the south you will have to go through Denver. Check here for driving directions. I'd recommend going to the Quebec St and Prairie Parkway (64th Ave) entrance as that takes you to a paved parking lot. The Quebec St and 60th Ave entrance brings you to a rutted, dirt parking lot.
Getting out of the venue is a nightmare. I would never, ever recommend leaving a game early so I recommend hanging out at the Eighteen76 sports bar for at least 45 minutes (if not more) or do some additional tailgating after the game before venturing out of the parking lot.
For those heading south on I-25 to get home, be prepared for lane closures at night, especially during the 2014 season. Construction and lane closures are expected through 2016 as you get past the city and more south into the suburbs (past the Dry Creek and County Line Rd exits).
At half time, the concourse gets quite crowded and you'll barely have time to hit the restroom, walk the concourse, and get back to your seat before the second half kick-off.
There are plenty of restrooms available and are clean throughout and after the game.
Rapids ticket prices range from $25 - $55. Some deals can be found on Stub Hub or Ticket Monster so check those before purchasing a ticket.
Yes, the ticket prices are worth it. The parking is free; a tailgate can be found for a $5 donation; concession prices are the normal major league prices.
The play on the field is intense and the fans are alive and passionate.
There is an impressive souvenir shop at Dick's Sporting Goods Park, although it is crowded pre game. There are plenty of scarves available for purchase.
Tours and field trips are available at DSGP and are free year round, Monday-Friday from 9:00am - 6:00pm MST. Call ahead, (303) 727-3599, before showing up as tours may be booked or inclement weather may cause a tour to be cancelled.
The Centennial 38 Supporter's Group is worth another mention for their commitment to the team and the Rapids' fans and community.
It is quite a luxury to go to a sporting event where the actual game is the center of attraction and not the silly promotions, loud music, and distractions that go along at other major league sporting events.
Watching a soccer game is way more entertaining in person than it is on TV, so I'd recommend attending a Rapids game. And, you'll get to see/hear the Centennial 38 Supporters Group during your visit.
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.
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