NFL Stadium #10: Sports Authority Field at Mile High

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See all my pictures from this visit at my Flickr account.

Ahhh, Denver, you will be remembered, but probably not for the reasons you’d like. First, let’s chat about how effing far your airport is from the actual city. So. Far. I went with a Super Shuttle to the Airbnb I was staying at for the night and it was the best thing I did. It was only $24 each way which beats a $70 cab or Uber ride. Once I got to the place I was staying, I became aware that Sports Authority at Mile High is not in a great area like Coors Field, no, quite the opposite. I wanted to be able to get away from traffic quickly as I’d be leaving for Seattle following the game and opted to stay a mile away. My Airbnb had five other guys staying at it, most on drugs (pretty sure more than a little pot). I had booked through a girl and here I was staying at a man’s house with a bunch of guys. Earl ended up being very nice and I told him straight up about my concerns. He gave me his room to stay in and said he’d keep an eye on me but assured me the other people were harmless. I felt better but was going to definitely research the next Airbnb much better.

Day of the game, I purchased my ticket- $330 off of Vivid Seats ($60 in fees). ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! You’d think I’d be in the lower level for that price, but no I was in section 504. That ticket was three times what I’ve spent on any ticket in the other cities. Someone told me it’s because most of the seats are season ticket holder, so it inflates the prices for the single game tickets. Knowing that didn’t make me feel any better. This better be the greatest stadium my butts ever sat in, but I already knew it wouldn’t. I walked the mile to the stadium briskly from the place I was staying. Once I was by the stadium I started to chill out and enjoy the game day atmosphere. Before this season, I didn’t know much about Vikings fans, but after seeing the way they travel for games. They were out and about at Mile High in full force.

I walked around the tailgates and was surprised the smell of pot was absent as it’s legal in Colorado. Fans were decked out in their respective team’s gear and I liked the costumes I saw from both sides. They were mingling a bit with one another as well. The south side of the stadium has these awesome bronco statues running up to the stadium with the top one bucking up. Flanking them on either side are little walks of fame with Broncos legends faces, numbers, and a little plaque about them. I saw a fan genuflecting in front of the John Elway plaque, no joke. We have very different views on Elway, for sure. Opposite all this is a statue of Pat Bowlen looking like a total bad a**. The man saved the team and he wants you to know about it. Though I really can’t fault him for it, if I owned an NFL team, I’d make a giant statue of myself for it too.

With no more sights outside the stadium to be seen, I decided to go in and check out the field. Small problem, the app I had used to download my ticket wasn’t loading. Well delightful. I asked a stadium employee if there was any internet and he said no unless you were a Verizon customer and advised me to walk away from the stadium. Sweet, so I walked towards the tailgates again. Finally, the app opened and displayed my ticket. I headed to a gate and the girl sent me to another gate for mobile tickets. That’s cool and I got in line. The guy there said he couldn’t scan the ticket as displayed and sent me to the ticket office on the other side of the stadium. Now I was getting annoyed all over again. Once at the ticket window the girl said I couldn’t use tickets like that and I tried to explain that the company Vivid Seats had said in an email I could use their app and that’s why I hadn’t printed it out. The place I was staying at was stealing the internet from the neighbors, they sure as hell didn’t have a printer. She told me she would print it out but it would cost $10 or I could go somewhere. I gave her the money and she then noticed the seller was suspiciously buying and selling tickets. She had to verify that the ticket hadn’t been used yet. I was like it better not be, I was under the impression that it was verified by Vivid Seats. She recommended Ticketmaster. Oh trust me, I will never use Vivid Seats again.

Twenty minutes later, my ticket was re-verified and I was weaving through the long crowds to the north gate which had the shortest lines. They were still long and it was 25 minutes to kickoff. Ok people, let’s go through this again. There are metal detectors and you need to go through them. Please, please, please be ready for this and take out your darn cell phone. It killed me and the guys behind me that this was so hard. Even the couple in front of us messed it up. I was fuming by this time and trying so hard to keep it to myself and be polite to stadium workers. Once in I had little over five minutes to find a stadium employee to act as my witness and get my pre-game pictures with the matchup and time. I walked briskly to the first section I came to and right up to a female usher. She was the first compassionate employee I had met all day and I hugged her. Sam took my pictures and agreed to be my stadium witness, I could’ve cried. She even let me go down near the field to take some pictures of the team’s entrance.

When the team came out and I saw Thunder in all his glory, I was happy again. The stadium was filling up and the crowd was already loud. I walked back up, thanked Sam and told her I would see her again after the game. On my way up to my seat, I popped into some section entrances to watch the anthem and kickoff. The concourse was wide and crowded, lined with concessions and bars. It wasn’t anything special, though I did discover the coolest thing ever. The stadium offers phone chargers that you can take with you to your seat. Nice save there Denver. They do run your credit card for $35, but you will only be charged if you peace out with them. I rode the escalator up to my section and found my seat. Denver was on defense and I could hear the fans stomping their feet from the concourse.

With my negative thoughts on this team’s ticket price for value aside, I did thoroughly enjoy the actual game environment. I want their stadium announcer to narrate my life. He had an animated voice and led the crowd well throughout the game. His timing was great and they played this silly horsey noise for third downs. Now the other stadiums focus is on the offense, with the first downs, but out here, they were all about the D. Defense was king even with Manning at QB, and I wasn’t mad. They stomped and cheered loudly the entire time Minnesota was on offense and they actually cheered IN-COM-PLETE for incomplete passes. That was a new one. I joined in, though I found for this game I was cheering for both teams a little. Sometimes you can’t help but get excited when you see good football plays. I ended up talking to the girl sitting next to me, Courtney a Colorado native. She was there as a birthday gift from her friend (amazing friend) and went to games fairly often. At halftime, she asked if I wanted to go to the lower level and meet up with her friends. I was planning on going down at the half anyways to look around the stadium, so walked with her.

Moving around the stadium during halftime was slow and I should’ve known better. By the time we got down to their section the game had started again. Her friend couldn’t meet her and Courtney decided to go back and meet other friends. I told her I was going to find a place to watch the game and we said goodbye. Cold, I jumped in a concession line and got a coffee. That warmed me up and I ventured around looking for a good place to stand. This stadium is also horseshoe shaped (not surprising) and I found that the second level south concourse had the only real standing room. What was a little lame about it, was they have gray see-through panels shielding the seats in front. I stood there for the third quarter beginning of the fourth quarter.  I began to wonder what the big deal was about Adrian Peterson. He didn’t seem that great in the two games I’d seen him play. He must’ve heard me because he ripped off a sweet 48-yard touchdown run through a hole so big, a bus could’ve gone through. It was beautiful. My apologies for doubting you AP!

The people sitting in the seats in front of us left at the 10-minute mark in the fourth and offered up their seats. The ushers let me and three others take their seats and I watched what had become a tight game. I saw a fight between fans after a Vikings score, but it was diffused rather quickly. The Broncos fan that threw the first punch was very intoxicated and was escorted out. After the Broncos kicked the go-ahead field goal after the two-minute warning, I headed down to Sam’s section to watch the final plays. All I wanted was the game to end in regulation, so I was rooting for whoever was going to win to get it done. Broncos defense got it done and the place erupted with cheers. Vikings fans were not happy campers.

Sam signed my witness log and I wished I could’ve stayed to talk a little longer, but I had 45 minutes until my shuttle was picking me up from the house, so I had to get going. I skedaddled from the stadium, glad that despite the large crowds, I wasn’t held hostage anywhere like in Pittsburgh. I made it to the airport with time to spare and a head full of stories. No one was happier than me to head to Seattle. 12th Man, I’m on my way!

Remember I am raising money for the Ronald McDonald House in Central Ohio. Please donate by clicking here.

Special thank you to Sam for her time and assistance during my visit!


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