The Denver Broncos and Mile High Stadium

How do you measure the soul of a city?

In Denver, for the better part of four decades, it’s been by the Broncos, and by Mile High Stadium.

From the first nationally televised Monday night game in 1973, through 26 postseason games that include back-to-back World Championships and four other Super Bowl appearances, the Broncos arguably have provided the Mile High City’s primary identity on a national level.

Not only did the Broncos win consecutive Super Bowls in 1997 and 1998, but they established all-time pro football records for most wins in two seasons (33), most playoff wins in two seasons (seven), and most wins ever in three seasons (46, from 1996-98), all records that will be very difficult to challenge.

All this was done while playing in the venerable Mile High Stadium.

The attachment of Denver’s fans with their football team and stadium stands out as unusual even in a city that has as strong an affinity for all its teams as does Denver-whether judged by 31 consecutive seasons of sellouts (with the last non-sellout being in 1969), by the highest local television ratings of any NFL city during that time frame, or just by the impact of Bronco wins and losses on Denver’s collective Monday morning psyche.

Denver’s love affair for and support of the Broncos certainly helped spawn the eventual arrival and fan loyalty to the other professional teams here, but the term “Broncomania” was born out of necessity as a response to the genuine fanaticism surrounding pro football in the Mile High City.

Mile High Stadium was the birthplace of Broncomania. The stadium nurtured both the fans and the team, and watched Broncomania become a national phenomenon.

The nation’s first truly regional sports franchise, the Broncos were the first major league team to call Denver home, beginning play as a charter member of the new American Football League, with its first season being 1960.

The Denver Broncos have played in Mile High Stadium since their inception. The stadium was originally built in 1948 with a capacity of 18,000 for the city’s minor league baseball team, the Denver Bears. Capacity was doubled in 1960 for the Broncos’ first season.

In 1967, the Denver Broncos faced a crisis when voters declined a bond issue to construct a new stadium. But local fans came to the rescue, forming a non-profit group called the “DOERS,” and raising 1.8 million to purchase Bears Stadium from its private owners and present the deed to the city.

The following year, the addition of an upper deck increased capacity to 50,000 and the facility was re-named Denver Mile High Stadium. In 1971, voters approved a $25 million bond issue to expand the stadium to more than 75,00 seats.

The capacity of Mile High Stadium now stands at 76,082, making it one of the largest facilities in the National Football League. Unfortunately, at over 50 years of age, it is also the oldest stadium in the NFL, with more pro football games having been played in it than in any other stadium currently occupied. Given the dynamics of modern stadium design and the financial imperatives of professional sports in the 1990’s, the need for a new football venue was obvious, and the Broncos will move into their new stadium for the 2001 season.

The new stadium assures a prominent place for Denver as professional football prepares to move into the 21st century.

The new stadium will be a fabulous venue for the Broncos, but in our hearts, Mile High Stadium will be with us always.

by Jim Saccomano
Denver Broncos Vice President of Media Relations


Mile High Stadium

Articles About Mile High

“Tough South Stands Fans Say Goodbye with Tears”
By Robert Sanchez, Denver Rocky Mountain News Staff Writer
December 24, 2000

“One Last Salute”
By Randy Holtz, Denver Rocky Mountain News Staff Writer
December, 24, 2000

“Once More with Feeling”
CNN/Sports Illustrated
Saturday, December 23, 2000

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Photo: Helen H Richardson, Denver Post File

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MILE HIGH – By the Numbers

  • 34,657: Capacity of Bears Stadium in 1968.
  • 50,657: Capacity after west upper stands added in 1968.
  • 63,532: Capacity in 1976 after adding upper north stands.
  • 75,100: Capacity in 1977 with movable east stands.
  • 76,273: Capacity in 1986 after adding penthouse suites.
  • 76,105: Record attendance set Jan. 4, 1987, for playoff game against New England.
  • 74,508: Total home attendance for 1961 season.
  • 598,224: Home attendance for 1981 season, the franchise record.
  • 17,527,099: Total attendance for 40 seasons, not including this one.
  • 96: Head and assistant Broncos coacheswho prowled the sidelines at Mile High since 1960.
  • 18: Degrees Fahrenheit at kickoff for the first-ever AFC title game at Mile High, a Jan. 1, 1978, victory over Oakland.
  • 53: Degrees Fahrenheit at kickoff for the Jan. 14, 1990, AFC title game against Cleveland.
  • 250: Consecutive sellout home games, regular and postseason, dating to 1970 season and including Friday’s closer.
  • 400: Broncos preseason, regular season and playoff games at Mile High.
  • 201: Broncos regular and post-season victories at Mile High.
  • 111: Broncos regular and post-season losses at Mile High.
  • 822: Athletes who have worn Broncos uniform at Mile High since 1960.
  • 25: Millions of dollars in voter-approved bond issue in 1974 to build upper north stands and “floating” east stands.
  • 146: Feet the east stands move back and forth to accommodate football and baseball.
  • 30: Height in feet of Bucky the Bronco, the Fiberglas horse atop the south scoreboard.
  • 180: Touchdown passes thrown by John Elway at Mile High.
  • 14-10: Final score of the Nov. 25, 1973, home victory over Kansas City, which assured the Broncos’ first non-losing season in franchise history.
  • 2: Broncos home games that were NOT played at Mile High. 9/7/62, win over San Diego and 9/7/63 loss to Kansas City were played at DU stadium because of scheduling conflicts with Denver Bears.
  • 11: Preseason games played at DU instead of Bears Stadium.
  • 26: Yards for the final touchdown pass by John Elway in his first Mile High Magic comeback victory.
  • 143: Season tickets not renewed following the Broncos’ first Super Bowl, a January 1978 loss to Dallas.
  • 0: Number worn by fullback John Olszewski in 1962, the only player to wear “0” in franchise history.
  • 20: Broncos players named Smith to play at Mile High.
  • 1: Broncos players named By’not’e to play at Mile High.
  • 9: Degrees Fahrenheit at kickoff for 12/10/72, game vs San Diego, coldest game played at Mile High.
  • 51,478: Frozen fans who watched that game.
  • 16: Monday Night Football games at Mile High won by Broncos.
  • 7: Monday Night Football games lost by Broncos. 2-4-1: Broncos’ home record first season in 1960, apparently before the advent of Mile High Magic.
  • 5: Most touchdown passes by a Broncos quarterback at Mile High in a single game, held jointly by John Elway versus Minnesota on Nov. 18, 1984, and by Frank Tripucka versus Buffalo on Oct. 28, 1962. Elway won, Tripucka lost.
  • 445: Passing yards by Charley Johnson at Mile High against Kansas City on Nov. 18, 1974, a franchise record.
  • 95: Yards in longest touchdown pass by Broncos at Mile High, Craig Morton to Steve Watson against Detroit, Oct. 11, 1981.
  • 63: Longest field goal at Mile High, by Jason Elam on Oct. 25, 1998, against Jacksonville, tied with Tom Dempsey of New Orleans for league record.
  • 50: Most points scored by the Broncos in a Mile High game, versus San Diego on Oct. 6, 1963.
  • 7: Home losses in a row for franchise record, from Sept. 24, 1967, to Sept. 29, 1968.
  • 82: Yards for longest run from scrimmage by Bronco at Mile High, Gene Mingo on Oct. 5, 1962.
  • 2,675: Season ticket holders for the 1960 inaugural season.
  • 6: Broncos fans who have had their ashes scattered at Mile High.