In constant pursuit to make the game day experience one of the best in sports, the team at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium has some upgrades in store for fans in 2017. The orange and blue faithful can expect better restrooms, better food and eventually better internet connectivity at Broncos games this year.
Jay Roberts, General Manager at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium, along with Christopher DeJohn, Executive Chef at Centerplate, on Tuesday announced several stadium improvement initiatives that will come to life throughout the 2017 season.
The improvements come straight from fan suggestions, both in the offseason and even on game days themselves.
“We have a ‘voice of the fan’ survey that goes out and we get thousands and thousands of responses throughout the course of the year,” Roberts said. “The NFL actually does it in all 32 stadiums. We collect that information; we review it. I actually call a lot of the people, my staff calls a lot of the people, the guest service staff calls people and asks them about some of the comments that they had … Walking the concourse and talking to fans, when I’m in a suit and I’m on the concourse I immediately get someone grabbing me every five minutes to ask a question.”
Roberts and his team take the game day experience personally, poring over those suggestions to make improvements each and every offseason.
“We look at the voice of the fan every year, and we take the guest suggestions to heart in the offseason and try and figure out ways to address some of the things that our fans bring up,” he said.
Things can get a little tricky for Roberts and his team with 75,000 people (and some animals) all trying to eat and drink (on top of experiencing the game itself), not to mention dealing with the byproduct of eating and drinking, and all of them trying to do so in the incredibly short windows of time the average NFL game allows. Thus, this years stadium improvements were geared at not only improving the quality of both the food and drink offerings throughout the stadium, but also their availability. Bathroom renovations were also completed to give the stadium restrooms a cleaner look and feel throughout. Roberts and his team even added some improvements to help with non-human ‘bathroom’ issues.
“We’ve put bird netting up over season-ticket holders heads where birds might have been perching and causing some issues,” Roberts said.
“We spent a lot of time adding drink rails to the north reserve seating where people will have better room to eat their food and beverage. A lot of bathroom-related items; we actually added a new bathroom out at the Mile High Monument, so if you are visiting the monument on game day you don’t have to leave the monument to use the facilities.”
Improving food variety was a major focus this offseason, as well as adding more healthy options.
“From a food and beverage standpoint this year, [fans] talked a lot about healthier options as well as more variety,” Roberts said.
Eleven new menu items will be available to fans throughout the stadium on game days. They’ve upgraded stadium standards like burgers and dogs, giving each a gourmet touch. These aren’t the run-of-the-mill, straight-out-of-the-freezer burgers and dogs you might find at other facilities around the country.
The new Blitz Burger features locally sourced beef from Gold Canyon Ranch, Colo., shipped in the day before the game. The half-pound burger starts with two fresh quarter-pound all natural beef patties, topped with American cheese and a freshly prepared house-made “United in Orange” Bacon Onion Jam created in collaboration with Breckenridge Brewery. The Denver Chili Cheese Dog puts a uniquely Colorado twist on the classic. The stadium dog is smothered with spicy nacho cheese and a helping of Mark Schlereth’s “Stinkin Good Green Chile.”
Healthy items including a variety of salads and gluten free options are available, as is an expanded international menu featuring street tacos, egg rolls and gyros.
While fans will be better fed during the game, they’ll also be better connected in the very near future.
Roberts said that a stadium-wide wifi upgrade is nearing completion and should be rolled out to fans midseason. A collaboration with Verizon, Century Link and Cisco Systems will bring improved wifi and cell phone coverage to fans throughout the stadium. Verizon previously provided wifi service to its customers inside the stadium, but the new network will be expanded for users on any carrier.
That’s big news for fans who want to keep track of their fantasy team, upload photos and video, and simply keep in better communication during the game. While it wasn’t necessarily the biggest point of concern from fans, Roberts did say that improved cell phone coverage and internet access has been a major request.
The wireless infrastructure upgrade will also allow his guest service staff and other stadium support to respond to in-game emergencies and fan needs with more speed and accuracy during games. Ushers will be equipped with wifi-conneted devices that will allow them to better communicate issues like medical emergencies with more detail to the appropriate support team.
Roberts and his team look for the smallest detail that can improve the game day experience, even if it’s not inside the stadium itself.
“The men’s room [at the Mile High Monument] actually has an homage to old Mile High Stadium. It’s not working, but there is a trough in the [men’s] bathroom. There’s a piece of plexiglass on it with a sign that says it’s ‘for display only.’ Unfortunately the city wouldn’t allow it to be a working trough, but for those who do remember that fondly from Mile High Stadium, there is at least a memory of it. For those of you who didn’t remember that fondly, you don’t have to use it,” he said laughing.
The food, beverage and other infrastructure upgrades, including a lactation suite for nursing mothers, are complete and will be available for fans beginning with this weekend’s preseason game against Green Bay. Wireless and cell phone upgrades will be announced at a later date, but are expected to be completed midseason.