Sports Authority Field at Mile High – Denver Broncos
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Mile High Memories
Sports Authority Field at Mile High (SAF at Mile High) was built to offer fans modern amenities and the cozy comforts of a newer stadium. The original Mile High Stadium had lots of memories and cheaper tickets, but as is usually the case, a plain and basic stadium is replaced by a modern palace full of revenue generating streams. Built in 2001, this stadium still looks and feels brand new. Wider seats, more legroom, and great concession options makes fans forget about the original Mile High Stadium.
The Denver Broncos have a long and prosperous history. They are most known for their two Super Bowl titles in 1997 and 1998 with John Elway, but have a winning tradition that spans from the late 70’s to the current roster led by Peyton Manning. Denver has had good eras including the Orange Crush era in the late 70’s-early 80’s, the Elway era from the mid 80’s-late 90’s, and the current Peyton Manning era. Losing five Super Bowls for most franchises makes them a laughingstock, but in Denver’s case, it’s part of a celebration of a great franchise.
Food & Beverage 4
Fans can find a wide variety of food at SAF at Mile High. Basic stadium fare such as burgers, hot dogs, nachos, and pizza are found in many places around the stadium. The prices for these items seem to be on par with most NFL stadiums. Some unique offerings include various styles of cheesesteaks, burritos, and garlic fries. There are healthy offerings around the stadium as well. Gluten free and vegetarian choices are plentiful for health conscious fans. A listing of what is offered at SAF at Mile High can be found here.
Coca-Cola products are served at Sports Authority Field. Two value items for the budget conscious fan are the bottomless popcorn and bottomless soda. These two items may be a bit much for one person, but good for a family.
Alcohol can be found at many locations around the stadium making it quick and easy to grab a beer or cocktail during breaks in action. There are numerous stand alone areas on the concourse that sell beer. Bottles of beer are $6.50 while draughts are $6.75 and Coors and Budweiser products are the staples, while many stands have microbrew taps as well.
The atmosphere at SAF at Mile High is loud and electric. Loud music and plenty of pregame scoreboard videos from Broncos players pumps the crowd up before the game even starts. Whether it is a 2 o’ clock game or a nationally televised night game, the crowd is raucous from start to finish.
Getting to your seats a bit early is a must. During the pregame, four or five skydivers jump into the stadium and get a running landing at the twenty and sprint to the end zone. This is a sight to see and a hidden camera view is shown on one of the skydivers showing the stadium aerial shot. This camera view is a neat touch as you see the stadium get closer and closer with an occasional downtown shot as they get closer to the field. One of the skydivers delivers the game ball when they land.
The national anthem ceremony is as patriotic as one would hope as members of each military branch march onto the field while a Toby Keith American pride song is being played.
SAF at Mile High is spacious and the concourses are wide. Despite 76,000+ fans moving around during breaks and before the game, the flow is smooth. The seating areas are a little different whether you are upstairs or downstairs. The lower bowl has a lot of legroom, but the seating pitch is small. If you are behind a taller person, you’ll have a tough time seeing the action on the field. In the upper bowl, the pitch is steep. For people not used to the altitude, it is a steep climb. The positive of this is you could sit behind Manute Bol and probably still see the field. The floors are metal which is fun for fans who like to make noise. During key defensive plays, fans stomp on the metal flooring creating a loud buzzing sound throughout the stadium.
The best areas to sit are close to the action on the field or the upper deck between the goal lines. Because the angled pitch of the upper bowl is so steep, you are better off sitting up there as there will be no obstructions. I’ve sat in various spots in the lower bowl and it always seems like a camera crane, players/coaches on the sideline, or some other obstruction partially blocks your view.
No matter where you are in the stadium, you’ll be able to see a scoreboard. The biggest scoreboard is on the southern end of the stadium. You can’t miss it. Not only is it the biggest scoreboard in the stadium, it has a Bronco horse standing on two legs on top of it. For fantasy football players, the scoreboards do a good job with out of town stats and scores. Someone can easily tell how their fantasy team is doing by looking at the fantasy stats leaders on the scoreboard each game.
The neighborhood surrounding SAF at Mile High is good for tailgating, but be prepared to walk a bit for good restaurants or bars. The stadium is located just outside of downtown meaning places to eat are a short drive or long walk away. Don’t make the same mistake I did the first time I went there. There is some housing and neighborhood restaurants north of the stadium grounds. Most restaurants are neighborhood hole in the wall places and aren’t conducive to game time festivities.
For those willing to walk, park east of the stadium and walk or take a short cab ride over to the lower downtown district. There, you will find many great places to eat and enjoy adult beverages. Any type of eatery you can think of is located in this area of downtown. Whether it’s a quick bite to eat or a nice sit down meal, this area has everything.
The 16th Street Mall is heavily advertised but I’d suggest visiting Wynkoop St or Blake St if wanting a nice meal. If looking for a chain restaurant or fast food, 16th Street Mall is the place to go. Free shuttle buses take you up and down that road so you can pick a spot while riding the bus. If looking for local flavor, pick one of the two streets listed above.
The Wynkoop Brewery has lots of great food options including the best poutine in Colorado. While there, try a sampler flight and ask for the Jalapeno beer. It is very popular but when in stock, it is well worth it. If eating downtown, head north to Union Station and take the light rail two stops up to the stadium.
The tailgating scene here is prevalent as well. All around the stadium, you will smell various meats and veggies being cooked on the grill. The best spots to tailgate are the western side of the stadium and far eastern side. On the western side, there are many booths open offering freebies. If it is a nationally televised game, the pregame shows will be hosted there. Security will let you take a quick picture of these TV sets but will be quick to move you along if you take too long.
The far eastern side of the stadium features one of the best walking paths to the stadium. A lot of people choose to park at Metro State University, Pepsi Center, or further downtown and walk over. On this walk, you will see lots of t-shirt vendors as well as food vendors. For those that have seen Blake St or 19th St before a Colorado Rockies game, these same vendors line the street leading to SAF at Mile High Stadium.
Most hotels are located downtown or north of the stadium by the I-25/I-70 interchange. Fans with any budget are sure to find a good hotel in their price range.
The Denver Broncos were named America’s team by Sports Illustrated in October 2014, and it seems like it while going to games at SAF at Mile High. The Broncos have sold out every game since 1979.
Tickets to games here are the toughest in town. They are some of the toughest tickets in the entire NFL as well with tickets routinely going on second hand ticket providers for $120 and up. Some games have a “get in” secondary market price of $160 and up. Tickets start around $60 and go up from there. Most games sell out when tickets first go on sale so a trip to the website or ticket booth may be futile. Like most NFL stadiums, tickets can be had a day or two before if a visiting teams allotment is returned. Otherwise, good luck.
There are numerous chants and cheers that are done throughout the game. A favorite that is always heard on TV is after Denver earns a first down. The announcer will say “and that’s another Denver” and the crowd yells “first down!” Another favorite is when the opposing team drops a pass or throws an incompletion. The PA announcer will say for example: Phillip Rivers pass intended for Antonio Gates is…. And the crowd will yell: “In! Com! Plete!” Followed by a yakety sax “wah wah wah.” I have been asked several times by friends watching the game on TV wondering what the crowd is yelling after an incomplete pass.
All in all, this is one of the most passionate fan bases I have ever seen. Nearly all fans are wearing some sort of orange and most of the orange are jerseys. Being on the concourse and seeing all of the orange as well as orange painted floors and walls can be a bit blinding at first.
I have yet to see any disturbances in the crowd as the ushers are quick to respond and diffuse any unruly fan behavior. There are lots of jokes and chants yelled at the opposing team, but fans of the opposition shouldn’t worry about wearing their favorite team’s jersey. That being said, you don’t want to invite trouble by getting into it with the home fans. This is where the ushers are quick to diffuse situations like these.
SAF at Mile High is easy to get to from I-25 or Colfax Avenue. Colfax the main east-west street in Denver. Traffic on I-25 backs up quickly but if you arrive early, it won’t be bad. Too often, fans will try to get to the game at the last second and end up lining the right lane on both sides of I-25. After the game, be prepared to sit in traffic for awhile. Parking is ample on the stadium property but will set you back anywhere from $20-$30. If driving, I advise parking east of the stadium for considerably less depending on how far you want to walk. Getting out of the stadium will be much easier as well. Pepsi Center parking or Metro State University parking costs $10. If you are willing to walk, park on the northern edge of downtown, take a free 16th Street Mall shuttle to Wewatta St and walk over.
Fans of mass transit will be happy to know that the RTD arrives a few blocks away from the stadium. Getting to the game via light rail is a breeze. You will be waiting in a long line after the game, but the police and security do a good job of keeping the lines orderly and flowing properly. If arriving to the game by train, be prepared to show your ticket prior to leaving the train station. There is a line of police each game checking tickets and you don’t want a ticket for trying to sneak a ride without paying.
Fans flying in for the game will have to take an expensive cab or shuttle ride to downtown or rent a car. As of the 2014 season, the light rail from the Denver airport to downtown is not yet completed.
Bathrooms and concession stands are everywhere at SAF at Mile High and waits for either are short.
Return on Investment 4
Finding tickets to games here can be difficult. The only deal advertised is some half priced tickets. These sell out quickly so proceed with caution when checking for these on the team’s website. If you can get a ticket for face value, congratulations. The ticket prices here are a tad higher than league average. However, the same tickets are some of the highest on the secondary market on any given week.
The food prices are on par with most NFL stadiums and the beer and soda prices go for a tad less than the NFL average. Sharing an all you can drink soda with your family will help save some cost.
If you arrive early enough, you could get your hands on a giveaway such as sunglasses or towels on games that giveaways are advertised. Free game programs are given out to each fan as well. These programs have the team’s rosters, stats, and stories about Broncos coaches, cheerleaders, and players.
Going to NFL games can be costly no matter what city you are in, but a good Broncos team with Peyton Manning at the helm makes it seem worth it.
Going to NFL games seem like a daylong event of festivities, and Denver is no exception. From the skydivers before the game to watching Peyton Manning yell Omaha, SAF at Mile High is a must see. Watching Manning change the play at the line of scrimmage is worth a few bonus points. The wide concourses are another bonus. Too many stadiums are cramped during halftime or before/after the game, but not here.
Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium is also home to the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame, which is open year-round. Tours of the museum are 75 minutes long and they are $10 for adults, $8 for children.
For those who haven’t been to SAF at Mile High, it is worthy of a trip to see a game. From the atmosphere before the game to the final whistle, it is fun for all.
1975 Mile High Stadium Circle
Denver, CO 80204
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