Sports Authority Field at Mile High (SAF at Mile High) was built to offer fans modern amenities and the cozy comforts of a newer stadium. The original Mile High Stadium had lots of memories and cheaper tickets, but is as usually the case, a plain and basic stadium is replaced by a modern palace full of revenue generating streams. Built in 2001, this stadium still looks and feels brand new. Wider seats, more legroom, and great concession options makes fans forget about the original Mile High Stadium.
The Denver Broncos have a long and prosperous history. They are most known for their two Super Bowl titles in 1997 and 1998 with John Elway, but have a winning tradition that spans from the late 70’s to the current roster led by Peyton Manning. Denver has had good eras including the Orange Crush era in the late 70’s-early 80’s, the Elway era from the mid 80’s-late 90’s, and the current Peyton Manning era. Losing five Super Bowls for most franchises makes them a laughingstock, but in Denver’s case, it’s part of a celebration of a great franchise.
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".
Fans can find a wide variety of food at SAF at Mile High. Basic stadium fare such as burgers, hot dogs, nachos, and pizza are found in many places around the stadium. The prices for these items seem to be on par with most NFL stadiums. Some unique offerings include various styles of cheesesteaks, burritos, and garlic fries. There are healthy offerings around the stadiums as well. Gluten free and vegetarian choices are plentiful for health conscious fans. A listing of what is offered at SAF at Mile High can be found here.
Coca-Cola products are served at Sports Authority Field. Two value items for the budget conscious fan are the bottomless popcorn and bottomless soda. These two items may be a bit much for one person, but good for a family.
Alcohol can be found at many locations around the stadium making it quick and easy to grab a beer or cocktail during breaks in action. There are numerous stand alone areas on the concourse that sell beer. Bottles of beer are $6.50 while draughts are $6.75 and Coors and Budweiser products are the staples, while many stands have microbrew taps as well.
The atmosphere at SAF at Mile High is loud and electric. Loud music and plenty of pre-game scoreboard videos from Broncos players pumps the crowd up before the game even starts. Whether it is a 2 o' clock game or a nationally televised night game, the crowd is raucous from start to finish.
Getting to your seats a bit early is a must. During the pregame, four or five skydivers jump into the stadium and get a running landing at the twenty and sprint to the end zone. This is a sight to see and a hidden camera view is shown on one of the skydivers showing the stadium aerial shot. This camera view is a neat touch as you see the stadium get closer and closer with an occasional downtown shot as they get closer to the field. One of the skydivers delivers the game ball when they land.
The national anthem ceremony is as patriotic as one would hope as members of each military branch march onto the field while a Toby Keith American pride song is being played.
SAF at Mile High is spacious and the concourses are wide. Despite 76,000+ fans moving around during breaks and before the game, the flow is smooth. The seating areas are a little different whether you are upstairs or downstairs. The lower bowl has a lot of legroom, but the seating pitch is small. If you are behind a taller person, you'll have a tough time seeing the action on the field. In the upper bowl, the pitch is steep. For people not used to the altitude, it is a steep climb. The positive of this is the fact that you could sit behind Manute Bol and probably still see the field. The floors are metal which is fun for fans who like to make noise. During key defensive plays, fans stomp on the metal flooring creating a loud buzzing sound throughout the stadium.
The best areas to sit are close to the action on the field or the upper deck between the goal lines. Because the angled pitch of the upper bowl is so steep, you are better off sitting up there as there will be no obstructions. I've sat in various spots in the lower bowl and it always seems like a camera crane, players/coaches on the sideline, or some other obstruction partially blocks your view.
No matter where you are in the stadium, you'll be able to see a scoreboard. The biggest scoreboard is on the southern end of the stadium. You can't miss it. Not only is it the biggest scoreboard in the stadium, it has a Bronco horse standing on two legs on top of it. For fantasy football players, the scoreboards do a good job with out of town stats and scores. Someone can easily tell how their fantasy team is doing by looking at the fantasy stats leaders on the scoreboard each game.
The neighborhood surrounding SAF at Mile High is good for tailgating, but be prepared to walk a bit for good restaurants or bars. The stadium is located just outside of downtown meaning places to eat are a short drive or long walk away. Don't make the same mistake I did the first time I went there. There is some housing and neighborhood restaurants north of the stadium grounds. Most restaurants are neighborhood hole in the wall places and aren't conducive to game time festivities.
For those willing to walk, park east of the stadium and walk or take a short cab ride over to the lower downtown district. There, you will find many great places to eat and enjoy adult beverages. Any type of eatery you can think of is located in this area of downtown. Whether it's a quick bite to eat or a nice sit down meal, this area has everything.
The 16th street mall is heavily advertised but I'd suggest visiting Wynkoop St or Blake St if wanting a nice meal. If looking for a chain restaurant or fast food, 16th street mall is the place to go. Free shuttle buses take up and down that road so you can pick a spot while riding the bus. If looking for local flavor, pick one of the two streets listed above.
The Wynkoop Brewery has lots of great food options including the best poutine in Colorado. While there, try a sampler flight and ask for the Jalapeno beer. It is very popular but when in stock, it is well worth it. If eating downtown, head north to the union station and take the light rail two stops up to the stadium.
The tailgating scene here is prevalent as well. All around the stadium, you will smell various meats and veggies being cooked on the grill. The best spots to tailgate are the western side of the stadium and far eastern side. On the western side, there are many booths open offering freebies. If it is a nationally televised game, the pregame shows will be hosted there. Security will let you take a quick picture or these TV sets but will be quick to move you along if you take too long.
The far eastern side of the stadium features one of the best walking paths to the stadium. A lot of people choose to park at Metro State University, Pepsi Center, or further downtown and walk over. On this walk, you will see lots of t-shirt vendors as well as food vendors. For those that have seen Blake St or 19th St before a Colorado Rockies game, these same vendors line the street leading to SAF at Mile High Stadium.
Most hotels are located downtown or north of the stadium by the I-25/I-70 interchange. Fans with any budget are sure to find a good hotel in their price range.
The Denver Broncos were named America's team by Sports Illustrated in October 2014, and it seems like it while going to games at SAF at Mile High. The Broncos have sold out every game since 1979.
Tickets to games here are the toughest in town. They are some of the toughest tickets in the entire NFL as well with tickets routinely going on second hand ticket providers for $120 and up. Some games have a "get in" secondary market price of $160 and up. Tickets start around $60 and go up from there. Most games sell out when tickets first go on sale so a trip to the website or ticket booth may be futile. Like most NFL stadiums, tickets can be had a day or two before if a visiting teams allotment is returned. Otherwise, good luck.
There are numerous chants and cheers that are done throughout the game. A favorite that is always heard on TV is after Denver earns a first down. The announcer will say "and that's another Denver" and the crowd yells "first down!" Another favorite is when the opposing team drops a pass or throws an incompletion. The PA announcer will say for example: Phillip Rivers pass intended for Antonio Gates is.... And the crowd will yell: "In! Com! Plete!" Followed by a yakety sax "wah wah wah." I have been asked several times by friends watching the game on TV wondering what the crowd is yelling after an incomplete pass.
All in all, this is one of the most passionate fanbases I have ever seen. Nearly all fans are wearing some sort of orange and most of the orange are jerseys. Being on the concourse and seeing all of the orange as well as orange painted floors and walls can be a bit blinding at first.
I have yet to see any disturbances in the crowd as the ushers are quick to respond and diffuse any unruly fan behavior. There are lots of jokes and chants yelled at the opposing team, but fans of the opposition shouldn't worry about wearing their favorite team's jersey. That being said, you don't want to invite trouble by getting into it with the home fans. This is where the ushers are quick to diffuse situations like these.
SAF at Mile High is easy to get to from I-25 or Colfax Avenue. Colfax the main east-west street in Denver. Traffic on I-25 backs up quickly but if you arrive early, it won't be bad. Too often, fans will try to get to the game at the last second and end up lining the right lane on both sides of I-25. After the game, be prepared to sit in traffic for awhile. Parking is ample on the stadium property but will set you back anywhere from $20-$30. If driving, I advise parking east of the stadium for considerably less depending on how far you want to walk. Getting out of the stadium will be much easier as well. Pepsi Center parking or Metro State University parking costs $10. If you are willing to walk, park on the northern edge of downtown, take a free 16th Street mall shuttle to Wewatta St and walk over.
Fans of mass transit will be happy to know that the RTD arrives a few blocks away from the stadium. Getting to the game via light rail is a breeze. You will be waiting in a long line after the game, but the police and security do a good job of keeping the lines orderly and flowing properly. If arriving to the game by train, be prepared to show your ticket prior to leaving the train station. There is a line of police each game checking tickets and you don't want a ticket for trying to sneak a ride without paying.
Fans flying in for the game will have to take an expensive cab or shuttle ride to downtown or rent a car. As of the 2014 season, the light rail from the Denver airport to downtown is not yet completed.
Bathrooms and concession stands are everywhere at SAF at Mile High and waits for either are short.
As mentioned above, finding tickets to games here can be difficult. The only deal advertised is some half priced tickets. These sell out quickly so proceed with caution when checking for these on the team's website. If you can get a ticket for face value, congratulations. The ticket prices here are a tad higher than league average. However, the same tickets are some of the highest on the secondary market on any given week.
The food prices are on par with most NFL stadiums and the beer and soda prices go for a tad less than the NFL average. Sharing an all you can drink soda with your family will help save some cost.
If you arrive early enough, you could get your hands on a giveaway such as sunglasses or towels on games that giveaways are advertised. Free game programs are given out to each fan as well. These programs have the team's rosters, stats, and stories about Broncos coaches, cheerleaders, and players.
Going to NFL games can be costly no matter what city you are in, but a good Broncos team with Peyton Manning at the helm makes it seem worth it.
Going to NFL games seem like a daylong event of festivities, and Denver is no exception. From the skydivers before the game to watching Peyton Manning yell Omaha, SAF at Mile High is a must see. Watching Manning change the play at the line of scrimmage is worth a few bonus points. The wide concourses are another bonus. Too many stadiums are cramped during halftime or before/after the game, but not here.
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.
For those who haven't been to SAF at Mile High, it is worthy of a trip to see a game. From the atmosphere before the game to the final whistle, it is fun for all.
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.
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.
1735 19th Street
Denver, CO 80202
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