Sports Authority and Broncos Ownership Deals with Downtown Neighbors

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Denver Broncos fans would probably suggest that the best way to bring extra manufactured excitement to their football stadium would be to give it back its original “Mile High Stadium” name.  However, in the days where a corporate sponsor pays over a million dollars for the rights to use their company name on a sports stadium’s official name, the best Sports Authority could come up with for their new giant 76,000-seat advertisement, Sports Authority Field, was “bright lights”.  And the idea got turned down by a Denver planning board.

Sports Authority, who just this past summer took over naming rights of the successor to Mile High Stadium from previous corporation Invesco, have been trying to implement a plan proving controversial to the community where large “Sports Authority”-related signs would wrap themselves around the National Football League stadium’s steel band.  It was the idea of the signs’ bright glow that got neighbors all concerned about possible visual pollution, a type of pollution not normally discussed practically ever.

The board and Sports Authority did decide it’s permissible to continue on with SA’s illuminated roof-line ring idea that circles the top of the stadium and can be lit up during night games and evening concerts.

A crowd of neighbors so concerned about visual pollution ended up staying throughout the six-hour meeting, and they applauded the board’s unanimous decision at the end.  Their reason for bringing this thing to official protest was that the nearby Denver residents were forecasting a potentially visually-damaging impact from the signs’ lights on their homes.

“We strongly oppose the proposal on grounds that it would inflict egregious visual pollution on the citizens of Denver,” said Walter Friedenberg, speaking for a downtown Denver neighborhood group.  “To put large illuminated signs on the crowning band would sully that iconic structure and constitute corporate graffiti.”

Those who want the lit signs, including Sports Authority and Broncos ownership and management, still have a fighting chance, as the planning board’s disapproval is just one phase.  It’s the zoning administrator who has the final say, and that’s where the matter is headed now.

Broncos president Joe Ellis said, “We think this brings life to the building.”

On one end of the debate table is the signs’ designer, John Dohner, who states expresses that the glare from the stadium would be no worse than an individual candle from 50 feet away.  One of the frustrated neighbors, however, says such a claim is “absurd”.  Rafael Espinoza went on to use a flashlight at the six-hour meeting to show how light is being measured by sign supporters the wrong way.

Designer John Dohner, from Monigle Associates Inc., which created the signs, explained that the lighting studies found the glare at the stadium’s property line would be the equivalent of a single candle from 50 feet away.

“The photometric study measures what is falling on [your] back, not what is going into your eye. The whole purpose of signage is to be seen.”

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