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Official Review by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Denver was offered a major league lacrosse expansion team in 2006 and the Denver Outlaws played their first game on May 20, 2006 at Invesco Field at Mile High. The naming rights of the stadium transferred to Sports Authority in 2011. Many folks still refer to the stadium as Mile High or Invesco Field as the name Sports Authority Field at Mile High doesn’t quite roll off the tongue easily.
The Broncos (NFL) are the very much more popular team to play at Mile High as evidenced by only one half of the lower level seating on one side is open for Outlaws games and only one souvenir stand is open for the Outlaws (vs. a huge team shop for the Broncos).
With that said, the Outlaws have continuously broken MLL attendance records throughout its short history and have made it to the division and/or conference finals in each year of their existence. The popularity of the sport seems to be growing in the area especially with the kids.
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".
Because of the smaller attendance of a lacrosse game at Mile High; most of the concession stands are rightfully closed. There are your basics: burger and fry basket ($10), chicken finger basket ($7.50), Bronco brat - served with grilled onions, peppers, and sauerkraut ($6.75), and the basic hot dog ($4.75). Other snacks include nachos, soft pretzels, popcorn, cracker jacks, etc. ranging from $4 to $5.75.
The sodas (Coca-Cola products - $5.75) do not come with a lid. I thought for sure I would spill mine all over the place but I didn't and I came home with a nice Outlaws souvenir cup.
Unique adult beverage stands include: Jim Beam - The Twisted Lemon selling lemonade and shots; River's Edge Tap Room selling a variety of beer (cans and on tap); and Leinie Lodge offering brews from Leinenkugels.
Being a sports fan who likes to go to a game to watch the game, I was a bit disappointed at the lack of attention the Outlaws organization expounded on the actual game. The video board showed more of the fans wanting to be on the video board than the game in play. While the players were racing back and forth on the field in the 4th quarter, most fans were turned towards the 'Kiss Cam' being displayed on the video board.
I found it difficult to hear all the goal/penalty announcements. This is due to music being played while the announcer is talking or it just isn't announced. The sound system is poor and, at times, the crowd was too loud (a wonderfully, perfect thing). In those times of loudness or missed announcements, the scoreboard, however, did not always provide information needed if one was to keep score (e.g., who scored the goal, got the assist, got the penalty and the infraction).
The half time entertainment was a Jr. Lacrosse scrimmage but the focus was on the advertisements on the video board and not on the game.
The stadium lights make it nice and bright even after sunset.
There is your typical screeching female's voice for timeout interviews and contests.
Although somewhat close to downtown Denver, there is no neighborhood within walking distance. There's basically a big parking lot surrounding the stadium. Tailgating is allowed and many fans were enjoying corn toss and other pre-game events.
There is quite a bit of construction currently going on (2012) in the area as you walk from the light rail station to the stadium. There are picnic tables and trees/shade as you make that walk creating a pleasant view once you get past the construction.
There is a Hotel VQ right next door, within walking distance.
If you want a place to eat/drink pre or post-game, take the light rail north 2 stops to Union Station and you'll be in the LODO (lower downtown) area of Denver with plenty of eating and drinking establishments.
At the game I attended, there were lots of families and lots of kids most of whom seemed more interested in getting their faces on the video board than watching the game. With that said they all appeared to be having a great time and were making lots of noise yelling and banging their lacrosse sticks.
Attendance was 8,044 at the game I attended which is above the MLL average attendance figure and a season high for the Outlaws.
There is a Denver Outlaws fan known as the JoJo WAR Drummer. He's got his face painted; he beats a drum and blows a conch to support the team.
You can't get better than taking the light rail. There is some construction in the area; the walkway is a little uneven and dark in some spots so watch your step when heading back to the station after the game.
For those a bit afraid of bridges or heights, there is a short bridge over a creek/river one must cross to get to the stadium. The width of the bridge is wide enough to combat for most individuals afraid of bridges.
Driving to an Outlaws game might be an option since there is limited attendance. Sports Authority Field at Mile High is located in downtown Denver at the intersection of I-25 and Colfax Avenue. Parking is $10 for Denver Outlaws games.
There is a nice, wide concourse. Bathrooms are adequate with no lines even after the game.
Ticket prices for a single game range from $10 - $30. Corral Seats are $45 and are right on the field. The Outlaws are teamed up with the Denver Botanical Gardens and deals can be purchased for a combo pack between the two.
I got the $20 seats and they were 6 rows up from the field at the goal line. At the souvenir shop, hat pins were only $3; can't beat that.
Food prices are the common, overpriced amounts expected at stadium venues.
I saw a sock-trick at this game by Brendan Mundorf. A sock-trick is when a lacrosse player gets 6 goals in a game. It's a term that appears to have originated right here in Denver at a Colorado Mammoth (NLL) game in 2004. I did not see any socks being thrown on the field this game however.
The Outlaws offer a 'Film on the Field'. Fans get to go on the field after the game and watch a movie on the video board. This night's movie was 'Old School'.
There is a dedication by the Rockies and SABR to the former Bears Stadium (later named Mile High Stadium). I never did find the home plate commemorative plaque, but I'm sure it's there.
The Colorado Sports Hall of Fame is located on the west side of the stadium.
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