There was a very interesting topic that came up during one of our shows earlier in the week. It was an honest conversation that had multiple perspectives. The topic was: is Denver a flyover sports city in general?
To answer this question honestly, you must consider every professional and collegiate program in the Denver and surrounding area. The teams that are relevant in this discussion are the Denver Broncos, Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche, Colorado Rockies, Colorado Rapids, Colorado Mammoth, Denver Outlaws, Denver Pioneers, Colorado State Rams, Colorado Buffaloes and Air Force Falcons.
Collegiality, outside of the Pioneers’ recent titles in hockey and lacrosse, there has not been much buzz about the area nationally. There is hope with the recent rise of Colorado football and the improvement of Colorado St. The Rams will also have national attention coming up with the opening of a new on-campus stadium and their pursuit to land in a bigger conference.
Outside of the four major sports, Denver really has it pretty good. The Mammoth have won a championship and have only failed to qualify for the playoffs once in their history. The Outlaws have two titles, both since 2014. The Rapids have a ring to their credit as well. Additionally, Tim Howard joining the team and recent good play has also put the Rapids in the spotlight nationally.
As well as the collegiate programs and lesser-known professional sports have done in the Denver area, there is just as much concern in regards to the four major professional teams in Denver.
The exception to that statement are the Broncos. Denver has three championships and continues to be one of the most popular teams in the NFL. Since the 2012 season, Denver continues to be at the top of the list every season when it comes to having the most games on national television. There is a legitimacy to arguing that Denver is among the most popular teams in the league year in and out. It is safe to say that the Broncos will continue to be popular nationally for the foreseeable future.
The Avalanche do not deserve much praise after their results in 2016-17; however, this is still a fairly popular team nationally in the NHL. The national spotlight was really put on Colorado during their rivalry with the Detroit Red Wings, a time where the Avalanche won two championships. Recently, the pairing and split-up of Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy created headlines nationally around the team. As the worst team in hockey this past season, Colorado was still put on national television every nine games they played.
Over the past four seasons the Nuggets have really fell off the national map. It has been the combination of not winning and no national star power. When Denver was making the playoffs every year from 2003-2012, the team was on national television regularly. They were entertaining and has a perennial All-Star every season in Carmelo Anthony. In 2016-17, the Nuggets played in only two nationally televised games other than games on NBATV. Denver has also not had anyone in the All-Star game since Anthony. The NBA has forgotten about the Nuggets event though the team is clearly on the rise.
Finally, the Rockies have the longest postseason drought among Denver’s professional teams. Colorado has not won a divisional title and has only seen the playoffs three times, most recently in 2009. Things seems to be different this season due to the hot start; however, Colorado has no nationally televised games scheduled in all of 2017 outside of games shown on the MLB Network.
In addition to breaking down the popularity of every local team nationally when breaking down this question, you also must look at the events Denver has held in the sports world.
Pepsi Center has been a popular destination for different rounds of the NCAA Tournament, including hosting the Women’s Final Four. Denver has hosted major golf tournaments recently for the Champions Tour and LPGA, including the 2013 Solheim Cup. Denver has also hosted recent All-Star games in the NBA, MLB, NHL and MLS.
Although the Rockies and Nuggets have never won anything, it is very difficult to say that Denver is a flyby sports city. The city could have built a better stadium for football. Perhaps a dome could have landed the city a Super Bowl or a relevant college football bowl game.
All in all, the city of Denver is booming in the world of sports. Broncos football is the most popular it has ever been. Colorado and Colorado St. are improving in both football and basketball. The Pioneers keep collecting titles in hockey and lacrosse. The popularity of the Rockies will continue to grow if the team keeps winning. And, the Nuggets and Avalanche are a good draft or key free agent away. If that is not enough, you can enjoy the success of the Rapids, Mammoth and Outlaws.
All things considered, Denver is far from a flyover sports city.