AEG aims to revive ailing Broomfield Event Center as 1STBANK Center

Since opening three years ago, the Broomfield Event Center failed to live up to expectations, too often hosting sporting events that drew hundreds instead of thousands, despite its plum location along the U.S. 36 corridor between Denver and Boulder.

A new team recruited to operate the 6,500-seat venue – rechristened the 1STBANK Center – aims to elevate its status through a seven-figure remodeling project that adds vibrant colors and a stronger theater setting and a schedule focuses on music. Acts already booked for 2010 include Muse, Carrie Underwood, Daughtry, Sesame Street Live, Jason Aldean, the Denver Roller Dolls and Ultimate Fighting Championship.

It also will become home to the Colorado Music Hall of Fame, paying tribute to such local heroes as ’70s guitar hero Tommy Bolin, Judy Collins, Earth, Wind and Fire, Big Head Todd and the Monsters and The Fray.

The center kicks off its new history tonight with the first of a two-day stand by Further featuring the Grateful Dead’s Phil Lesh and Bob Weir. It’s the kind of high-profile act you’d expect from legendary concert promoter Chuck Morris, CEO of a new joint venture between AEG Live Rocky Mountains and Kroenke Sports Enterprises to manages 1STBANK Center.

During a VIP event Wednesday evening, Morris said the “bones” of the center were sound but that it needed some soul. We talked with Morris at his AEG Live office in Denver recently about the new project. (You also can listen to a podcast of the complete interview, from which this article was adapted.)

ColoradoBiz: A couple of years ago, you said you were considering adding another venue to the AEG stable when the economy turns around or if the right deals comes along. The economy didn’t turn around, but the right deal came along.

Chuck Morris: This was a real gift from heaven as far as I was concerned. We were looking to have a home court, a home venue. And all of a sudden a building that was only three years old and barely used built by Tim Romani, the great builder of large stadiums and clubs around the world … all of a sudden we got a call from the city of Broomfield to take it over. We took care of some of the minor deficiencies it had and redesigned it.

ColoradoBiz: When the venue first opened as the Broomfield Event Center it seemed poised to serve as a mini-Pepsi Center, the place mid-level bands would play and a home for minor league sports. But the venue has struggled. What are you doing differently to make sure you fill those seats?

Morris: It’s a building that has great bones but had no ambience at all. It was all white. It was rather boring. We have spent the last six months doing a ton of stuff to it: improving the sound, building a permanent stage and a sound and lighting system, building a state-of-the-art lighting system that can change the look of the stage with a thousand different looks. Improving the parking – we added another 1,000 parking spots. And there’s an RTD stop that’s going to start on May 1 right in front of the building from Boulder and go to Denver. … A bridge is being built to go over the freeway.

ColoradoBiz: So far you have the Further show with Phil Lesh and Bob Weir, Sesame Street Live, the Denver Roller Dolls, Carrie Underwood. What else do you have in store? What kind of mix are you shooting for?

Morris: It was a sports venue that would occasionally do sports. What we want to is concentrate on music but be able to convert it for sports when we need it. And all different kinds of entertainment … And there’s the Colorado Music Hall of Fame, which is something I always wanted to do but never had the right building to do it, which is to pay homage to the great history of Colorado music, which I’ve been blessed and lucky enough to be a part of for 40 years. All of the money that we raise will go to the music school at the University of Colorado … And we’re going to have a great Red Rocks display. 

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