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Mile High Stadium

By Wikipedia

Mile High Stadium (known as Bears Stadium until 1968) was a baseball, soccer and football stadium that stood in Denver, Colorado from 1948-2001. It hosted the Denver Broncos of the NFL from 1960-2001, the Colorado Rockies of the NL from 1993-1994, the Colorado Rapids of MLS from 1996-2001, the Denver Gold of the USFL from 1983-1985, and the Denver Bears and Denver Zephyrs of minor league baseball's Western League, American Association and Pacific Coast League from its completion in 1948 until 1992.

At a glance...
MILE HIGH STADIUM
Facility statistics
Location Denver
Broke ground 1948
Opened April 19, 1966
First Rockies Game April 9, 1993
Last Rockies Game August 7, 1994
Closed 2001
Demolished Fall of 2002
Owner City & County of Denver
Surface Grass
Construction cost $?
Replaced by
New Mile High Stadium (Broncos, 2002)
Coors Field (Rockies, 1995)
Former names
Bears Stadium
Tenants
Bears/Zephyrs (Minor Leagues 1948-92)
Broncos (NFL, 1960-2001)
Gold (USFL, 1983-85)
Rapids (MLS, 1996-01)
Seating capacity
34,000 (1960)
50.000 (1968)
70,000 (1974)
76,123 (1986)
80,227 (1993, baseball)
Dimensions
Left Field - 335 ft
Center Field - 420 ft
Right-Center - 400 ft
Right Field - 370 ft
Backstop - 60 ft

Mile High Stadium was originally built as Bears Stadium for minor league baseball by Bob Howsam in 1948 on top of an old city dump. The stadium initially consisted of a single 17,000-seat grandstand stretching along the north side from the left field foul pole to the right field foul pole on the west side.

In the late 1950s there was an attempt to form the Continental League lead by the famous Dodger General Manager, Branch Rickey. Bob Howsam joined ranks with Rickey, pleading for a major league team in Denver. Advised that to get a major league franchise Denver would need a much larger ballpark, Bear Stadium would begin the first of its many expansions. Over eight thousand seats were added to the south stands, bringing stadium capacity to 23,100. The new east stands increased seating to 34,657. The final bill, including cost overruns, came to just under $500,000.

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If you have Google Earth installed, click here to be "flown" to the site of old Mile High Stadium. (If you do not have it installed, get it from Google. It allows you to view virtually anywhere on Earth in 3D using satellite imagery.)


Major League Baseballís answer to the Continental League was to expand the league, which would eventually lead to the folding of the paper Continental League. Although Denver was not awarded a franchise, MLB promised teams in the future for Denver and other cities. Howsam was now trapped with a large stadium and debt he could ill afford. Frantically searching a solution he turned to football. Meeting with Lamar Hunt, Bud Adams, and George Halas, Howsam helped form the American Football League (AFL) and Denver was awarded the Broncos. A large bleacher section was added along the south side and temporary east stands were built in 1960, raising the capacity to 34,000.

Howsam's ownership in the AFL was short-lived as overwhelming debt forced Howsam to sell all his sports interests in 1961. His dream of major league baseball in Denver would be placed on hold for another 30 years. The stadium was sold to the city in 1968, which renamed it Mile High Stadium and built the upper deck along the west side, raising capacity to 50,000.

Denver had to settle for the minor league Bears and the AFL Broncos who resembled the early New York Mets version of football. Looking comical in their yellow & black vertical stripped socks, mustard yellow and brown uniforms, the fans in the stands would sing, "Send in the Clowns" when the Broncos would take the field. It took a few years to gain a following. In 1961 they drew fewer fans in a year than the Broncos now draw in a single game. In the middle of the 1960s uniforms changed, there were some wins, attendance turned around and people caught Bronco Fever.

FIRSTS at MILE HIGH STADIUM
Game
04/09/1993 Expos 4, Rockies 11
Umpires Mike Winters, Bruce Froemming
  Brian Gorman, Mark Hirschbeck
Managers Don Baylor, Rockies
  Felipe Alou, Expos
Starting Pitchers Bryn Smith, Rockies
  Kent Bottenfield, Expos
Ceremonial Pitch High school students Edgar Flores,
Connie Nidas, Nathan Jecminick,

Senator Tim Wirth
Attendance 80,227
Batting
Attendance 80,227
Batter Mike Lansing (ground out)
Hit Marquis Grissom (single)
Run Eric Young
RBI Eric Young
Single Marquis Grissom
Double Jerald Clark
Triple Joe Girardi (04/10/1993)
Home Run Eric Young
Grand Slam Junior Felix (04/25/1993)
IPHR Deion Sanders (07/26/1993)
Stolen Base Alex Cole
Sacrifice Hit Alex Cole
Sacrifice Fly Dante Bichette
Cycle (None)
Pitching
Win Bryn Smith
Loss Kent Bottenfield
Shutout Terry Mulholland (05/29/1993)
Save Mike Maddux (04/14/1993)
Hit by Pitch Bryn Smith hit Tim Laker
Wild Pitch Kent Bottenfield
Balk Andy Ashby (04/13/1993)
No-Hitter (None)
Primary research by Jim Herdman & David Vincent
Courtesy of Retrosheet
.

As ticket sales increased, the stadium expanded to 51,706 seats. With a $25 million bond issue in 1974 another stadium renovation added 20,000 more seats. By 1975 seating was up to 75,100. An ingenious expansion that took place from 1975-1977 raised the capacity to nearly 80,000 by extending the upper deck along the north side and building a movable triple-decked stands along the east side. When fully extended, the stands would form a horseshoe for football, but when fully retracted by 145 feet (44 m), the stadium could still fit a normal-sized baseball field. The structure was 535 feet (163 m) long, 135 feet (41 m) tall and 200 feet (61 m) deep, weighing nearly nine million pounds (4,000 t). In order to move the stands over more than 90,000 square feet (8,000 m≤) of runways, water was pumped onto the runways and formed a .003 inch (76 micrometre) sheet upon which the stands rested. Hydraulic rams then pushed the stands forward at the rate of three feet per minute (15 mm/s), taking about two hours from start to finish. In 1986, 77 luxury suites were added atop the west stands, increasing the official seating capacity to 76,123.

The large size of the stadium ensured that the expansion Rockies were able to set Major League Baseball attendance records (which still stand) before moving to Coors Field for the 1995 season. In fact, the attendance was so good that club officials increased the capacity of the still unfinished Coors Field to 50,000.

Indeed, the stadium was known for its loudness, the sound bouncing around within the horseshoe. Because of the huge size of the outfield and foul territory, as well as the 30-foot (10 m) high fence in center field, the stadium was not as problematic for pitchers as Coors Field proved to be.

Mile High Stadium was closed in 2001 after the Denver Broncos and Colorado Rapids moved to neighboring New Mile High Stadium (sponsored by Invesco). Mile High was demolished later that year.

 
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Mile High Stadium - Denver Broncos
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Related Books on Ballparks
The Ballpark Book: A Journey Through the Fields of Baseball Magic by Ron Smith and Kevin Belford.
Ballpark: The Story of America's Baseball Fields by Lynn Curlee
Ballparks: A Panoramic History by Marc Sandalow and Jim Sutton.
Ballparks by Robert Von Goeben and Red Howard.
Ballparks: Then & Now by Eric Enders.
Baseball Vacations: Great Family Trips to Minor League and Classic Major League Ballbarks Across America by Bruce Adams and Margaret Engel.
Blue Skies, Green Fields: A Celebration of 50 Major League Baseball Stadiums by Ira Rosen.
Diamonds: The Evolution of the Ballpark by Michael Gershman.
Fields of Dreams: A Guide to Visiting and Enjoying All 30 Major League Ballparks by Jay Ahuja
Green Cathedrals: The Ultimate Celebration of All Major League and Negro League Ballparks by Philip J. Lowry.
Joe Mock's Ballpark Guide by Joe Mock.
Lost Ballparks: A Celebration of Baseball's Legendary Fields by Lawrence S. Ritter.
Roadside Baseball: A Guide to Baseball Shrines Across America by Chris Epting.
Take Me Out to the Ballpark: An Illustrated Tour of Baseball Parks Past and Present by Josh Leventhal and Jessica Macmurray.
The Ultimate Baseball Road-Trip: A Fan's Guide to Major League Stadiums by Joshua Pahigian and Kevin O'Connell.
Video: Story of America's Classic Ballparks
Video: Baseball: A Film by Ken Burns

Economics of Stadiums
:
City Baseball Magic: Plain Talk and Uncommon Sense about Cities and Baseball Parks by Philip Bess.
Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money into Private Profit by Joanna Cagan and Neil deMause.
Public Dollars, Private Stadiums: The Battle over Building Sports Stadiums by Kevin J. Delaney and Rick Eckstein.
Sports, Jobs, and Taxes: The Economic Impact of Sports Teams and Stadiums by Roger G. Noll and Andrew Zimbalist.

General Stadium Reference:
Sports Staff of USA Today. The Complete 4 Sport Stadium Guide. Fodor's, 1996.

Stadium Design and Financing References:
Philip Bess. City Baseball Magic: Plain Talk and Uncommon Sense about Cities and Baseball Parks. Knothole Press, 1999.
Joanna Cagan and Neil deMause. Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money into Private Profit. Common Courage Press, 1998.
Mark S. Rosentraub. Major League Losers: The Real Cost of Sports and Who's Paying for It. HarperCollins, 1997.
Kevin J. Delaney, Rick Eckstein. Public Dollars, Private Stadiums: The Battle over Building Sports Stadiums. Rutgers University Press, 2004.
Roger G. Noll and Andrew Zimbalist. Sports, Jobs, and Taxes: The Economic Impact of Sports Teams and Stadiums. Brookings Institution, 1997.
Dean V. Baim. The Sports Stadium as a Municipal Investment. Greenwood Publishing, 1994.
Stadia: A Design and Development Guide by Geraint John and Rod Sheard. Architectural Press, 2000.
Michelle Provoost, Matthjis Bouw and Camiel Van Winkel. The Stadium: Architecture of Mass Sport. NAI Publishers, 2000.


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MILE HIGH!

Mile High from several miles high!

USGS Photo

Year by Year statistics: for Mile High Stadium


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It uses material from this Wikipedia article, which is probably more up to date than ours (retrieved August 12, 2005).

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