I’m not a big football fan – or Broncos fan, either, for that matter. So you might think I wouldn’t care much about touring the local football stadium. But I actually love going behind-the-scenes and learning more about the inner workings of buildings and such.
Last weekend my friends Ivan and Jess invited me along on a tour of Mile High Stadium that they had won at auction, and I was super excited to go. So I grabbed my iPhone and off I went.
Officially it’s now called Sports Authority Field at Mile High, and before that it was Invesco Field (until Invesco had money problems and sold its naming rights).
But I’m not a fan of all this branding stuff, anyway, so to me it’s always been and always will be just Mile High Stadium. Though technically, the original Mile High Stadium was torn down and replaced in 2001.
Mile High Stadium
The Denver Broncos play here and they also have concerts and one-off events like the Democratic National Convention back in 2008. It can hold over 75,00o crazed-Broncos fans (one of the largest stadiums in the NFL) and 50,000 concert goers. That’s a lot of people in one place.
Rumor has it there used to be a tiny sign welcoming visitors to the stadium that was easily missed, and once in a while it would even get covered by visiting teams with their own signage.
Now, there’s a bright red sign that’s a lot harder to overlook, and, lest the visitors forget, they’re reminded that they’re about to work a lot harder than they’re used to since the air’s a wee bit thinner at 5,280 feet above sea level.
The Locker Room
As it turns out, we were lucky we got to see the Denver Broncos’ Locker Room as it’s usually off limits.
It’s quite a large room with plush carpet and a giant Broncos head. We were sternly informed that walking on the white part was strictly forbidden in order to keep it so pretty and clean.
Most players have their own little cubby, though I was surprised to see a couple of guys sharing, even though there were some empty slots.
And I couldn’t not take a picture of one of our more famous newly-acquired talents: Peyton Manning.
I can only imagine how awesome it would be to go running out onto the field, the stadium erupting in cheers and everyone excited for the action to begin.
As we stood looking across to the other side, I was thinking it actually looked so much smaller than it does on TV. “I could totally run across that field in no time like they do. No problem,” I thought.
As I contemplated my sprinting skills, our tour guide told us some pretty interesting stuff about the grass itself.
Apparently the grass isn’t all real Kentucky Bluegrasses. There are polypropylene fibers actually sewn into the field, too, to help stabilize the grass and keep it looking so perfect (divots be gone!).
Another interesting thing is that they have a built-in drainage/pump system about 5′ below the ground. So on the rare occasion that it actually rains a lot in Denver or tons of snow is melting and soaks the field, it can be drained pretty quickly.
Welcome, Guests! (But not really)
There’s a remarkable difference between the visiting team’s locker room and the home team’s, and I suppose that’s intentional.
But I wasn’t fully prepared for the, um, sweat-scented odor that assaults you as you enter. Febreze doesn’t quite have the strength to overcome the aroma of gigantic, perspiring men it turns out.
The funniest thing to me was that our tour guide told us in the first year, the stadium allowed people to rent out this room for events. And the weirder part, still, is that people did. For weddings. Not sure exactly who would want a windowless, sweat-soaked room to celebrate their union, but all I gotta say is that I hope it was a good deal.
Sports Medicine / Soaking Tub
I don’t actually remember the proper name of this room, but here’s where the athletes get wrapped, can soak in the tub or get worked on in case of injury.
The Keg Rooms
This was really impressive. There are 4 different keg rooms which pump beer throughout the entire stadium. That’s a lot of beer and quite some distance to travel.
Got $50,000? Cool. Then you can totally rent out a suite for the season. Or maybe you’ll be lucky enough to be invited to sit with the big boys up in their plush accommodations.
Not too shabby.
Old and New
It’s kind of cool seeing the old helmet designs. But that’s a pretty funny-looking bronco on those orange ones.
The last stop on the tour was the press conference room.
Not super exciting, though a lot of people on the tour did enjoy pretending to make speeches.
I definitely enjoyed the tour, and thought it was fun learning more about how they operate.
Our tour was 2 hours long, but apparently most tours are about 75 minutes and don’t include all of the stops that we saw. Additional information about the tours can be found on Sports Authority Field’s website.