Mile High Magic used to happen seemingly every weekend at the old Mile High Stadium, as John Elway led the Broncos to unbelievable comebacks over and over again.
Yes, for the first 50 years of the Denver Broncos, they called one stadium home, Mile High (originally Bears' Stadium), and so many memories occurred there that fans wish the ancient, rickety, smelly and at times scary behemoth of a stadium still stood and housed their Broncos.
Alas, 53 years was too much for the old Mile High, which was originally build atop the Denver landfill, and it had to be replaced.
And the people of Denver and the surrounding counties built owner Pat Bowlen a football palace, fit for Kings, but what about the peons?
Yes, with Sports Authority Field at Mile High comes wider aisles, more bathrooms (especially women's), more amenities in terms of food and drink - but some argue it attracts the wrong crowd. Mile High Stadium offered extremely affordable seats - at $20 apiece for anywhere in the fabled South Stands - while New Mile High's seats have priced out blue collar Denver die-hards as the "wine and cheese crowd" fills the new stadium.
Some can be seen chatting on cell phones instead of watching the game, though this is likely true of any major sporting venue these days, while others simply leave before contests are decided.
That being said, Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium is a wonderful place to watch a game.
Three jumbotrons are smartly located in the South endzone and in the Northeast and Northwest corners, giving any attendee a chance to catch replays easily. Concourses are huge, with a plethora of food and drink vendors and bathrooms, making quick breaks a possibility. And the addition of steel floors - called "Rocky Mountain Thunder - are a tribute to Mile High and allow fans to get the new stadium shaking and noisy.
In 2011, INVESCO was dropped as the sponsor, and Sports Authority took over. It makes more sense because as "sports" is in the name and the Denver-based Gart Brothers was bought by Sports Authority in recent years, bringing it full-circle.
Fans seem to be more in favor of the new name, though many still call it either "New Mile High" or simply "Mile High."
The new stadium holds 76,125 fans, just two less than the old one, and due to its massive size, chairs and aisles are wider, making for a better experience for fans.
In its first 10 years of existence, SAF at Mile High has hosted three NFL playoff games, with the Broncos going 2-1, including the overtime thriller versus Pittsburgh on January 8, 2012. The stadium also hosted Barack Obama's 2008 Democratic National Convention in which 84,000 people were in attendance.
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".
Food and drink choices in Denver are diverse and cater to many fans' wants and needs.
Of course, there is usual ballpark fare in hot dogs, bratwursts, fries and popcorn, but that's not nearly all.
There's a BBQ stand (section 321) with ribs, pizza places all over the stadium, Philly cheese-steak sandwiches (section 106) and more.
Coca Cola products are sold at nearly every stand, with the new addition of "All You Can Drink Soda" for $9.00, and bottled waters can be purchased as well.
Alcohol is abundant in the stadium, making it convenient to grab a beer/drink between quarters. Bottles of beer are $6.50 while draughts are $6.75 and Coors/Light, Budweiser/Light, are the staples, while many stands have microbrew taps as well.
If you're looking for something special, check out the "River's Edge Tap Room" at section 115 where the beer selection is wide-ranging and includes lots of Colorado brews. Also, mixed drink stands are sprinkled throughout, if that is more your style.
The atmosphere is electric at SAF at Mile High, making attending an NFL game always entertaining.
There are Broncos fans young and old; from those that have had season tickets since 1960, to 20-somethings that grew up idolizing John Elway.
While the stadium is family friendly, as there are numerous family restrooms, the majority of attendees to Broncos games are adults looking to let loose and have a great time.
People enjoy jumping up and down on the metal floors, creating that Rocky Mountain Thunder and making the new stadium vibrate violently. Fans also dance, start chants and scream until their voice is gone.
Overall, it's a party atmosphere, a fun environment for people to yell and dress as loudly as they want, things that aren't acceptable in everyday life.
The stadium is located just outside of downtown, meaning many restaurants and lots of shopping is just a short drive away.
But unlike the Pepsi Center and Coors Field, which are in the middle of LODO, Mile High isn't necessarily in comfortable walking distance to everything.
There are restaurants on Federal Boulevard, but if you're looking for top-notch food in Denver, you've got to head downtown.
Elway's Steakhouse is downtown, as is the Denver Chop House and Brewery, which has sensational steaks, amazing appetizers and great microbrews.
Denver is known for their die-hards, fans that bleed orange and are blue if their Broncos lose.
But Broncos fans don't just hail from Denver, they come from all around the Rocky Mountain Region to cheer on their favorite team.
In 1960, Denver became the first city in the Rocky Mountain Region to be home to a professional football team, as the Broncos were one of the original American Football League teams.
Due to that, people from Wyoming, Nebraska, the Dakotas, Idaho, Utah and New Mexico consider themselves Broncos fans and they travel to the Mile High City on a regular basis to see their team in person.
Besides being wide-ranging, Broncos fans are fun-loving and at times, intense. Watching their team win is wonderful, and if they can be involved in that by making crazy amounts of crowd noise, even better.
Denver's been known as one of the fiercest home-field advantages in the NFL, and the Broncos are 54-34 in the regular season in their new stadium, a 61.4 winning percentage.
Sports Authority Field at Mile High is located just off of I-25, making getting to the game a breeze from either the North or South. Although, if you drive to the game, be prepared for heavy traffic before and extremely long waits after games.
Parking can be found on stadium grounds, though it costs a pretty penny at $20-$30. You can also find parking in private lots just North of the stadium grounds for less. We parked three blocks away for $10.
If you don't want to drive, there are other options as well, including the RTD Light Rail or the Broncos Ride.
There are numerous stops South of the stadium on I-25 for the Light Rail, and tickets are $3.00. Or, the Broncos Ride - a bus shuttle system - can pick you up all over the city and take you to and from the game for $5.00.
Bathrooms are seemingly everywhere, and there are noticeably more women's than men's restrooms, a major complaint of the old stadium. Concourses are wide, allowing massive movements of people to easily navigate them, and the concrete ramps to the upper levels echo the old stadium's metal ones that would flex as people found their seats.
Attending Broncos games is difficult in Denver, as both old and New Mile High have been sold out dating back to 1979. There are some 20,000 season-ticket holders for the Broncos, so finding tickets can be tough, and the cheapest seats in the house go for $55.
Broncos tickets are the most expensive in town, yet they are worth it because there are only eight home games a year, and there's no other sports experience like it in the region.
Tickets may be expensive, but there's nothing like taking in an NFL game in person, so if you have a chance, go.
Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium is also home to the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame, which is open year-round. Tours of the museum are 75 minutes long and they are $10 for adults, $8 for children.
A solid stadium experience with several highlights, including an awesome fan base and an exciting atmosphere, Sports Authority Field at Mile High provides a substantial return on your sports viewing dollar.
While New (INVESCO Field) at Mile High Stadium isn't what the old one was, there are positive and negative dimensions in the comparison.
Sure, old Mile High was louder, but that was partly due to the shaky blend of four decades of architecture smushed into one place. There weren't nearly as many bathrooms, food and drink stands, or other conveniences either though.
New Mile High has three jumbotrons, all of which can play a TV signal, unlike at old Mile High. There are seats with backs thoughout the new stadium, whereas the old South Stands in original Mile High were all just benches.
The game is more comfortable to take in from a fans perspective in the New Mile High, but arguments can be made that the "true" fans have been priced out of attending games regularly and that that "wine and cheese crowd" fills New Mile High at a higher rate.
Still, it's always a great time in Denver while watching the Denver Broncos play a game in the fall or winter, and New Mile High Stadium is a big reason why.
(INVESCO Field at Mile High also hosted President Barack Obama's Democratic National Convention in September 2008.)
I had the pleasure of going to the old Mile High Stadium twice in 1992 & 1999. That was an amazing place to see a game. The atomosphere was incredible.
In 2002, I went to see the modern version hence Invesco Field. It was an awesome time again.
The crowd and the state of Colorado shut down for Bronco football.
I love when the opposing quarterback throw an incomplete pass, the whole crowd yells in unison "INCOMPLETE".
I'm going back there in the middle of October again to see my Jets play there.
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I recently travelled to the AFC Divisional game in Denver between the Broncos and Ravens. Not my first NFL game but my first in Denver. Nice and friendly people at the game. sat row 6 on level 500 around the 45 yard line and the view was great. I was worried I was too high but I loved the seats. Concessions are the usual sporting event prices. Great playoff atmosphere and loved the extras with the parachute men, f-16 jets flying and the bronco. it was -20C for a freeeezing cold game but it was very exciting. Will return next year to see Peyton Manning again.
Good parking and easy access. Nice fcility with plenty of concessions and restrooms. Good lines from everywhere and a great fan base for a fun atmosphere.
Pleasing to the eye from the outside but merely functional on the inside. Average food choices, but there is a value concession with cheap, smaller items for those who prefer to stay healthy. Fans are loud and proud, although quick to grumble and leave early too. Nearly everyone wears orange which makes for a great effect. LRT access works well, even after the game. The Colorado Sports Hall of Fame is not accessible from inside the stadium, a minor issue that should be corrected.
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