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Wellington Webb thinks that the city should reclaim naming rights for the storied stadium.
DENVER — It’s only natural for elected officials who have left office to look back and assess decisions that they made. Time can sometimes affirm those decisions. Sometimes, it leads to regrets.
For Wellington Webb, who served as Denver’s mayor between 1991 to 2003, a big regret involves Mile High Stadium—or, formally, Sports Authority Field at Mile High. That’s the storied home of the Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos.
In an open letter, Webb wishes that, when he was still mayor, he would have stopped any efforts to sell the naming rights for the new Mile High Stadium, which was built with taxpayer dollars and is controlled by the Denver Metropolitan Stadium District.
When it opened in 2001, the stadium was known as Invesco Field at Mile High, though many people in Denver refused to call it by its corporate name. In 2011, the naming rights were shifted to the Englewood, Colorado-based Sports Authority sporting goods retail chain.
Webb thinks the time is right for Denver to figure out a way to formally ditch the stadium’s affiliation with Sports Authority, which has filed for bankruptcy.
As Webb wrote in The Denver Post last week:
Now, after 15 years of having a corporate name on the stadium, it's time to get back to our civic roots. Remember, that stadium was built with tax dollars. It is not a private stadium. Local taxpayers built that stadium, and I believe we should have a say in what it is called. Like The Denver Post did at the time, I also refused to call the new stadium "Invesco Field at Mile High." When Sports Authority purchased the naming rights after Invesco dropped them, I still called it "Mile High Stadium." Many old-time sports announcers also continued to refer to it that way. I take no joy in Sports Authority's current economic woes, but I see it as an opportunity for the stadium district and team to give the fans and the city a gift.
Going back to simply “Mile High Stadium” might be a good move considering there are suggestions to turn to a new Denver-area corporation for renaming opportunities. How does Noodles & Company World Kitchen Field at Mile High sound?
Michael Grass is Executive Editor of Government Executive’s Route Fifty.
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