Pro Sports Stadium Review: Mile High Stadium

Take away the clunky name and Mile High Stadium is one of the more recognizable stadium names in the NFL. Mile High Stadium is so called because the city of Denver sits a mile above sea level, presenting a unique set of challenges for opponents to adapt to during an NFL Sunday.

The altitude factor in Denver is one which should not be taken lightly and it is a factor which gives the Broncos one of the best home field advantages in the NFL. It is simply hard to breathe at one mile above sea level if you are not used to how thin the air is. Sprinting is fine, but the recovery from that sprint takes two or three times longer than normal, which is why you see many rival teams taking in pure oxygen through masks on their bench between series. When you add in the extreme cold and snowy conditions which pick up in Denver from November onward, you have a truly unique stadium situation in a league full of cookie cutter environments.

This version of Mile High Stadium opened up in 2001 to replace the old stadium of the same name which had been the Broncos home since 1960. The new stadium has all the amenities you would expect and it rises imposingly over the interstate as you get close to the facility on Interstate 25. As with any good modern stadium you can access the facility for tours and events, while the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame Museum is located at Gate #1 on the west side of the stadium.

Graphic via ballparks

Mile High Stadium does have some other quirks which set it apart from the run of the mill NFL venues in other cities. One such tradition is the derisory response to an incompletion by the opposing quarterback during a game. When this happens the stadium announcer will state “Pass thrown by [the opposing quarterback] intended for [the opposing intended receiver] is…” at which time the fans complete the chant by saying “IN-COM-PLETE!” This is followed by the “sad trombone” sound effect.

Watching the Broncos play at Mile High Stadium is difficult unless you are able to find tickets on the secondary market. The stadium has sold out every Bronco home game since its opening in 2001, continuing a streak which dates back to the old stadium in 1970. When the fans get going at Mile High they create the Mile High Thunder effect. This began at the old stadium, which was constructed from bare metal and created a unique sound effect when fans stamped their feet to stay warm or pump up the defense. The Thunder was preserved in the upper decks of the new stadium by adding steel floors to the design.

One of the cooler features which fans will not see at Mile High Stadium is the autograph closet. This is a closet in the away locker room which opposing players have inked their name into creating an ever expanding history of stars that have player in Denver. There are a few stadiums around the league which have something similar, but Denver’s is the most well-known thanks to an Eli Manning interview where he talked about seeing names like Jim Brown and James Lofton first hand.

Graphic via wikipedia

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