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Mile High: where naming rights go wrong (and may soon get worse) *UPDATED*

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"During its five decades of service Mile High also housed the Denver Gold of the United States Football League, the Denver Dynamos of the American Soccer League and even the Colorado Rockies of the National League. What Mile High Stadium never did, however, was change its name."

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The shining monolith at 1700 Mile High Stadium circle in the Sun Valley neighborhood west of downtown Denver was constructed largely at taxpayer expense back in 2001 in what had once been a large parking lot for the facility that preceded it. That original stadium, Mile High, had stood since its construction in 1948 as a baseball park for the Denver Bears of the Western League and eventual expansion into a pro football facility for the Broncos of the American Football League.

During its five decades of service Mile High also housed the Denver Gold of the United States Football League, the Denver Dynamos of the American Soccer League and even the Colorado Rockies of the National League. What Mile High Stadium never did, however, was change its name.

The new Mile High has stood for a fraction as long as the original had yet it has already boasted two titles and (sooner or later) will receive yet a third.

In the beginning it was Invesco Field at Mile High, named for Invesco Funds with the Mile High moniker attached to appease angry Denver fans who didn’t want the naming rights to be sold. Invesco Funds paid $120M for the original naming rights to the stadium. The company, however, sadly succumbed to bankruptcy in 2011. Suddenly Denver’s beautiful stadium had no name.

Naturally, fans moved that the team rename the place Mile High Stadium and not re-sell the naming rights. But, money being money, the Broncos struck a deal with Englewood, Colorado based Sports Authority as quickly as Invesco faded away and the Stadium became Sports Authority Field at Mile High, complete with the company’s trademark neon (Kansas City Chiefs) red signs (which angered Broncos fans plenty).

Alas, Sports Authority also went belly up. It filed bankruptcy just as Invesco had, and closed all of its stores between 2014 and 2015. Once again ours was to become a stadium without a name. However, for one reason or another the name has outlived Sports Authority itself. The retailer is long gone but its name and its logo remain on our stadium.

Apparently Broncos brass thinks that having no corporate name for the stadium is worse than having the name of a defunct company on it. Or perhaps they just don’t want to pull down the Sports Authority signage without having new signage to install. Perhaps they’re hatching a brand new naming rights deal and it’s only a matter of time before they break it to the public.

This past summer the Broncos announced a contract extension with their radio broadcast partners at 850 KOA and 103.5 the Fox, both stations affiliated with I Heart Radio, formerly known as clear channel. Additionally, as part of the arrangement, I Heart agreed to supply 760 AM as “Orange and Blue radio”, featuring 24 hour Broncos talk 365 days per year.

But the synergy between the Broncos and I Heart Radio does not end there.  I Heart hosted a “block party” at the Broncos’ shiny stadium in May and will doubtlessly be involved in bringing national acts into Mile High for concerts as the relationship between the broadcasting company and the team move forward. Already Guns and Roses and Justin Bieber visited the stadium this summer brought to you by I Heart Media.

So would it not make sense that the next owner of the naming rights for Denver’s “Mile High” football stadium would be none other than I Heart Media?

It sounds awful, that’s for sure. “I Heart Stadium at Mile High” would instantly become the most inane of all 32 NFL stadium names. And maybe that’s the hold-up. Maybe the Broncos and the folks at I Heart are trying to find a clever way to rename the facility in a manner that won’t sound quite as bad …. I Heart the Broncos Media Stadium?  Who knows?

I have heard rumblings as long ago as in June and as recently as last week that Broncos fans can brace themselves for a new stadium naming rights deal that will include the phrase “I heart” in one fashion or another.

I hate to break your heart.

***********UPDATE*********** WE ARE NOW HEARING THAT I HEART MEDIA IS NEGOTIATING TO HAVE THE WORDS "MILE HIGH" REMOVED FROM THE STADIUM ALTOGETHER 

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