Future of Denver Broncos stadium splits mayoral candidates
The future of the Denver Broncos' stadium will land on the desk of the city's next mayor. And it's an issue that's splitting the two runoff candidates.
State of play: The prospect is a major test for the next mayor, who will begin negotiations on the Empower Field lease, which expires in 2030. The cost — and who pays for it — is also expected to generate major controversy.
What's new: Kelly Brough, the former Denver chamber leader, is open to a new stadium within the city — but made clear she'd fight a relocation elsewhere. "It's not Denver without the Broncos, and it's not the Broncos without Denver," she told us.
- She also would consider supporting the use of taxpayer dollars or incentives to keep the team. If city money is involved, however, the question would need to win the public's consent at the ballot, she said.
What she's saying: "I'm open to what might work for the city and the Broncos," she said in an interview.
The other side: Mike Johnston, a former state senator and nonprofit leader, is less accommodating: the stadium should stay on Denver's west side, and the owners need to pay for it themselves, he says.
What he's saying: "The No. 1 priority is to keep them in Denver. But I think in addition to that, the priority would be to keep them in west Denver," he told us. "I think the economy and identity of the west side is so connected to that."
Of note: Johnston's view on incentives has shifted during his campaign. He previously said he was open to government subsidies for a stadium, but now after reviewing recent deals in other cities, the new "structures are much more solid without requiring taxpayer incentives."
- "My belief is it's a great business without subsidies," he explained
Context: The Broncos owners hope a $2 billion, state-of-the-art stadium with a retractable roof would help lure the Super Bowl and other major entertainment events.
- Denver metro taxpayers covered 75% of the $400 million cost to build the stadium and the team paid the remainder as part of a deal crafted in the late 1990s.
- The spending is the largest construction project at the stadium in its 22-year history.
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