For Denver Broncos, new $2 billion stadium may follow new owner

Empower Field at Mile High Stadium. Credit: Isaiah J. Downing, USA TODAY Sports.
Empower Field at Mile High Stadium. Credit: Isaiah J. Downing, USA TODAY Sports.

Denver Broncos fans have been eyeing the change in ownership for years.

And it’s been bittersweet, in all honesty.

Pat Bowlen was the greatest owner in the history of Denver sports. His legacy remains one of the most impressive of any NFL owner, too. When Bowlen bought the team in 1984, they were basically a joke. Denver struggled through losing seasons in 14-of-24 years leading up to Bowlen buying the team. Under him, the franchise won the AFC West 13 times and attended seven Super Bowls, winning three of them.

Bowlen was also instrumental in terms of the league making insane amounts of money from their television deals, and he was the “father of Sunday Night Football.”

Under Bowlen, the Broncos not only wanted to win, it was “Super Bowl or Bust.”

And one more part of his legacy was getting the Empower Field at Mile High Stadium erected in 2001, taking over for the ancient and decrepit Mile High Stadium (1948-2000).

Losing Bowlen to Alzheimer’s Disease in 2019 was devastating for Broncos Country. And now that the Bowlen Trust is getting ready to sell the team, many fans have been wondering if that will mean a new stadium to replace the 21-year old “new” Mile High.

According to Joe Ellis, yes, it likely will:

A new stadium, “it’ll be the No. 1 decision the new owner will have to make,” Ellis said per Front Office Sports.

In their report, the new stadium would be incredibly expensive — coming in at $2 billion — which would be five times as much ($409 million) as “new” Mile High Stadium.

Part of that cost, they say, will be due to there being a retractable roof on the stadium. That’s the rumor, anyway.

If you’ve been in Broncos Country for long enough, you’ll remember 20 years ago the rumor was the new stadium would have a retractable roof back then. That, of course, didn’t happen and considering Denver’s climate, wasn’t needed.

However, it should be noted that many more stadiums have opened in recent years which feature retractable roofs. There are four — Houston, Arizona, Indianapolis and Dallas — which have the ability to open the roof, or in Dallas’ case, the windows on the ends.

What three of those stadiums have in common is the oppressive heat — and sometimes humidity — which is likely earlier in the season.

Denver’s gotten hotter — just like the rest of the world, due to climate change — but the real reason to have a retractable roof would not be for the heat, but for the snow.

Even back around the turn of the century, folks wanted the Mile High City to host a Super Bowl. That’s never happened due to fears of snow on the day of the big game. Although, it’s become popular to note the temperature in Denver in early February, when it’s regularly been in the 40s as of late.

So, as far as a retractable roof is concerned, believe it when you see it.

And really, the same can be said for a new stadium in general.

On one hand, Empower Field at Mile High isn’t that old, just passing two decades. On the other hand, there was a giant fire there this winter — when sparks from a welder created the blaze — and that won’t be fixed in time for kickoff. The fire was only to a few sections of the stadium, so that alone isn’t reason to build a new one.

And another wrinkle which must be thought about: There’s a lack of space this time.

When Mile High Stadium was still standing, they built the “new” Mile High in its parking lot. Then, tore down Mile High and put parking lots in its place. It wouldn’t be as easy to just do that in reverse, meaning the new stadium would possibly have to go somewhere other than in the heart of the city.

What if that meant Commerce City (where the Rapids play) or somewhere else on the outskirts of town?

Simply, fans are excited for new ownership, even though they miss Bowlen. And they’re also excited for the possibility of a new stadium, but it remains that, just a possibility at this point.

And who will be the new owner? Rob Walton, of the Walmart Waltons, looks to be the frontrunner, but don’t count out Josh Harris or Todd Boehly, yet.

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