My first Colorado Rockies Opening Day was a decade ago. Thinking about the Denver of the late-2000’s compared to now, it feels like a different place entirely. Lower Downtown is more than a couple of streets—it’s now a couple of neighborhoods. The ballpark district has joined LoDo as the place to be around baseball.
My first opening day, 10 years ago, was the year after the Rockies won the National League Pennant. My friend Aaron and I attended the 2007 play-in-game and found ourselves back at Coors Field for Opening Day 2008. We skipped classes our junior year of high school and headed to the ballpark.
The Rockies lost that day, but we made the memories you seek at a big event like Opening Day. We have been patrons in the Opening Day crowds several times since then, ready to ring in another baseball season.
Little did we know how much the ballpark area we were walking around would change. The Democratic National Convention took place in Denver later that summer. Some cite the event as the beginning of modern growth in Denver. Our identity as a well-kept secret hidden by the mountains was out.
Opening Day arrives feeling like a major event in Denver. The town may belong to the Broncos, but the summers belong to the Rockies and Coors Field. Yes, a lot of the attention may be for parties, but Coors Field is the gathering place for the summer.
For all of Denver’s growth in the intervening years, Coors Field stands as a monument that cannot be moved. As the Mile High City climbs up the population charts, it seems to be growing around baseball in the summer. The apartment ads often talk about Coors Field. Union Station melds into the ballpark. It’s not Wrigleyville, but the stadium really does feel like a monument to the community.
Many of the changes around Downtown have not been for the better. The apartments that block the mountains behind Coors Field on the lower deck are a travesty. All of the hip places in Denver seem kind of interchangeable. None of them stick out the way a ballpark does in downtown.
Denver doesn’t have much of an identity right now. The transplants like to outdo the natives when it comes to outdoor activities and culture spots, so that the small-city feel that made Denver great has been washed away.
The Rockies feel like one of our cultural touch points that is almost unchanged. Along with Red Rocks, Coors Field has turned into one of the only “must-see” attractions in Denver.
It helps that the Rockies are good right now. The baseball park stands out by itself, but it feels like the players who played on the field will continue to shape the legacy of the park. Yes, we have Larry Walker and Todd Helton, but imagine the stories around Charlie Blackmon and Nolan Arenado if they can also secure a World Series ring.
On a summer evening, the weather cools in Denver so that the temperature is just right for a baseball game after a hot day. Opening Day, in snow or sunshine, is the start of those summers.