"Now they talk on the radio about the record set by Ruth, and DiMaggio and Henry Aaron. But they rarely mention mine. Do you know what I have to show for the sixty-one home runs? Nothing, exactly nothing."
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
MILE HIGH STADIUM
& County of Denver
Mile High Stadium (Broncos, 2002) Coors
Field (Rockies, 1995)
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
to Mile High Stadium!
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to be "flown" to the site of old Mile High Stadium. (If
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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
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
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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