Jun 9, 2022 - News

What's next for the Denver Broncos stadium under new ownership

The Denver Broncos horse statue seen above Empower Field at Mile High. Photo: Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

The Denver Broncos' 21-year-old stadium needs a facelift — but to what extent and who will cover the cost remain up for debate.

Driving the news: The record-setting purchase of the team by Walmart heir Rob Walton and his family is spurring talk about a fresh stadium on the horizon.

  • Team president Joe Ellis teased the idea of a rebuild in March, and experts expect plans for a bigger venue to host the Super Bowl for the first time in Denver.

Details: If green-lit, a new home for the Broncos would likely include a retractable roof and exceed $2 billion in cost — nearly five times as much as the current stadium, Front Office Sports reports.

  • Whether it would stay at its current address or relocate remains an open question, with some sports pundits suggesting a move somewhere in the suburbs or near the airport.

What they're saying: A top-tier stadium "enhances the community it's in, creates jobs, creates more of a focal point for the community and brings national recognition," Irwin Kishner, with the sports law group at Herrick, Feinstein LLP, tells Axios Denver.

  • "It's a definite benefit to any city that's fortunate enough to have an NFL team."

The intrigue: Financing a new arena is likely to come with controversy — just as it did in the late 1990s, when voters chose to replace the old Mile High Stadium using municipal bonds.

  • Adam Estroff, a city council candidate, said the new stadium should be a 2023 municipal election issue. He told Axios Denver that he would not support "bonding or otherwise using taxpayer money for another arena" even though he said he loves the team.
  • "If the new owners want to build a new stadium with their own money, that's their choice. Not a penny of public funds should go toward this, including tax breaks," reader Gene Drumm, a Denver resident, added.

Of note: Many Denver voters share Drumm's skepticism. Last fall, voters rejected Mayor Michael Hancock's proposal to build a "state of the art," 10,000-seat arena on the National Western Campus using municipal bonds.

The big picture: The NFL is pushing for the development and modernization of stadiums nationwide to help raise revenue and ultimately compete with the 80-inch screens in people's living rooms.

  • Many developers are now combining new arenas with revenue-generating retail, dining and residential properties to help fund venue development.
  • By 2030, teams across the country could invest more than $10 billion for development, CNBC reports.

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