Here's your chance: What would you name the Broncos' stadium?

Sports Authority’s bankruptcy invites speculation

Sports Authority Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in late February, spurring speculation of a possible name change for the Denver Broncos’ home stadium. The Englewood-based sporting goods retailer pays about $6 million a year for the naming rights to the home of the defending Super Bowl champions, Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

The stadium’s name has been a contentious issue since the new structure replaced venerable Mile High Stadium in 2001, and Invesco was granted naming rights. Critics, including John Hickenlooper when he was chiefly a brew-pub owner, argued that since the new stadium was funded by taxpayers, it should retain the name synonymous with Denver — Mile High Stadium. Ultimately there was a compromise: Invesco Field at Mile High. Still, for a time, even The Denver Post refused to acknowledge the Invesco name in print.

The Mile High compromise continued when Sports Authority assumed the naming rights in 2011. Half a loaf is better than none, right? Not to former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb, who recently penned an open letter titled, “Give back the Mile High Stadium Name to the City and Broncos Fans.”

I used to be in that fervent “Mile High Stadium” camp, because I remember as a kid in the early ’70s driving past the original, magnificent structure on the Valley Highway (as I-25 was called back then), and thinking it was one thing truly big-league that Denver had. A few years later, on the pretext of selling Dr Pepper in the stands for 50 cents each, I got into Mile High for the 1977 AFC Championship game – still the biggest sporting event ever played in Denver — that put the Broncos in their first Super Bowl.

I was saddened to see the old Mile High go, though its time had come. There has never been anything like the joyously deafening crowd in that trembling stadium when it was rocking. Its no-frills, rickety quality made it not much of a fit for corporate schmoozing, but heaven for fans whose sole interest was to experience Denver Broncos football, LIVE, and there were always more of those fans than there were available seats.

I went to one game at the new field a few years after it opened, with the comfy seats and corporate skyboxes and better-behaved crowd, no raucous South Stands, and I realized, “This isn’t Mile High Stadium.” I know my tax money helped build it, and it’s nice, but they can call it what they want. Invesco, Sports Authority, Mile High, or Mile High Jr.       

But that’s just me. I’ll be stunned if a corporation – Sports Authority or some another — isn’t retained as part of the name. That could depend on whether Sports Authority reorganizes or sells; Sports Authority could retain the naming-rights contract that runs through 2021, or it could be transferred as part of a sale. The company’s next scheduled bankruptcy court hearing is March 29.

In the meantime, we put it to you: If the Sports Authority name is vacated, what should the stadium be called? Comment below.

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