Posted: Wednesday November 7, 2007 10:29AM; Updated: Wednesday November 7, 2007 10:29AM
NFL Fan Value Experience
Denver Broncos INVESCO FIELD AT MILE HIGH :: Opened 2001 :: Cap.: 76,125
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Average Price Per Ticket
Price Range Of Tickets
Games sold out since 1970
For the most part, these are "crazy, smart fans" who know when to be loud and when to keep quiet." "It's impossible to hear anything when the opposition is on offense, and when the Broncos are on offense, the stadium goes nuts for just about any gain." More than a few, however, feel the crowd is "vastly inferior to the old Mile High." "Invesco simply doesn't generate the noise of old Mile High." "At lower levels it's too corporate; most people are happy just to be there instead of caring how the Broncos play." "And the noisiest fans are at too high an altitude to be heard." Others, though, feel the crowd reaction "depends on what team the Broncos are playing." "The stadium gets decidedly more intense for rivalry games [e.g. the Raiders, the Chiefs]." Some, though, have "been to games where it seems the fans are snobbish and won't get up and cheer their hearts out." The changing crowd atmosphere may best be described "as saying a BMW falls short of Mercedes - we were all little spoiled."
6 out of 10
FOOD & SOUVENIRS
Soda (20 oz.)
Beer (16 oz.)
Expected Meal Cost
There is "lots of local fare, from buffalo to barbecue to Mexican," in addition to "tons of other specialty foods," such as "crab cakes" and "sushi." "The green tamales are great," note more than a few; others write that "the Frito pies are a must." True to their reputation, though, the "Rocky Mountain oysters are a bit tough," a reality that "a good selection of microbrews" might soften. Should you find yourself on the club level, "the nacho bar is something you will dream about afterwards," and the margaritas are an "excellent" way to wash down the feast at the "buffet on the east side of the stadium." That is, unless you hang out at one of the club-level bars, where "plenty of TVs showing all of the games and a fireplace" make for an "ideal" setting.
7 out of 10
"It's not a dreadful commute, but parking is a problem." "There is precious little parking in and around the stadium," and "you are going to have to pay an arm or a leg" for what is there. "Getting home from a game is terrible because nobody leaves early and the freeway entrances are clogged, leaving you in a long, one-lane line from your parking spot to the freeway." But "if you know what you are doing, you can easily get to the stadium without ever driving within sight of it." "From downtown, it is a short 10-minute walk to the stadium." Broncos "shuttle buses pickup throughout the Denver area," and the light-rail system "leaves you a five-minute walk to the entrance, although it does get a bit crowded after the game."
6 out of 10
Since "you need a parking pass for the stadium lot," tailgaters spread to "outlying lots and neighborhoods around the stadium," turning game days into "a multiple block party." "Each lot has its own fans who have tailgated for years together and their own unique foods." "There are lots of barbecues," and "miles of hot dogs, burgers and charcoal." Though "no kegs are allowed," there is lots of "Fat Tire beer," a regional microbrew. "But people handle their alcohol with a mature attitude toward safety." The team itself also joins in at the Broncos Barn, a tent at the south entrance "with a bars, large-screen TVs and cheerleaders." "It allows those of us who take the bus to have a great experience before the game."
7 out of 10
Jay Cutler :: Peter Read Miller/SI
Record through Week 9
Players Worth Watching
Jay Cutler (QB), Brandon Marshall (WR), Champ Bailey (CB)
3 out of 10
"It may not be the coolest or most historic stadium in football," but Invesco is "beautiful" and "a great place to watch a Broncos game." "It has an open feel" and "great views of downtown from the west stands." More important to the game at hand, the seats "seem to sit over the field," affording "good sightlines even in the top rows of the fifth deck." "Three well-placed jumbo video screens makes it easy to see replays" while a host of TVs on the "wide concourses" allow fans to grab a bite without missing much of the game. And "metal floorboards" make the stadium "nice and loud when you stomp on them." Under the surface glamour, though, seems to lie subtle downside: a "nose bleed section that is at a different altitude," seats that are "too close together" and "further away from the field than at Mile High," and men's room lines that are "always out the door during timeouts." Though Invesco has yet to not sell out a Broncos game, it's clear that "Mile High was to Denver stadiums what John Elway was to Denver quarterbacks." "Invesco falls short in terms of that game day electricity that made Mile High buzz. Invesco is really nice for those who have motives beyond watching football; Mile High was fantastic for football fans. The seating was steep, the place was incredibly loud and it shook in a way that made newcomers nervous. None of this is true at Invesco."
8 out of 10
"This is an older neighborhood beginning the process of renewal." Bordered to the west by a "working-class neighborhood," an "interstate to the East" and "warehouses to the south," the area "isn't the greatest, but it is not dangerous." "But within a short walk is the wonderful bar/restaurant scene in LoDo," and "downtown Denver is about a 10-minute walk." Closer still are the "bars, eating establishments and sports memorabilia shops of Federal Boulevard."
6 out of 10
As much as Broncos fans lavish Invesco Field with praise, it's impossible to escape the feeling that Denver fans have sold their souls a little. Yes, the stadium is comfortable, and it's loaded with food options and the video screens are crystal clear. But the best seats in the house are priced for business class, the football-mad atmosphere has softened and the bill for the stadium is being footed by the taxpayers. As one fan vented: "What a shock. Pat Bowlen gets the Denver public to pay for his stadium and then still charges an arm and a leg for tickets, parking and concessions." So long as the Broncos deliver in the standings, this should remain a marriage as pretty as the pictures suggest. If bad times come, though, those long-hidden love letters to a stadium past is sure to cause problems.