MILE HIGH STADIUM

View from the upper deck at Mile High Stadium, former home of the Colorado Rockies

Denver, CO

When Mile High Stadium closed in 1994 there was only one problem:the Colorado Rockies would never again attract as many fans in one season as they did during the 1993 and 1994 seasons. In 1948, private funds were used to build a stadium for the Denver Bears of baseball’s old Western League. A hill at 19th and Clay Street was graded for bleachers and the ballpark was named Bears Stadium. The main grandstand extended from the right field foul pole to home plate and around to the left field foul pole. Bleachers were located in right and left field. Opening day came soon after and Bears Stadium had a capacity of around 17,000. The stadium was also capable of hosting football. In 1959, Denver’s football team the Broncos, became part of the American Football League and the capacity of the stadium was increased to 34,000. By 1968, the stadium was bought and donated to the City of Denver, the capacity grew to over 51,000, and Bears Stadium was renamed Mile High Stadium. Another expansion came in 1977 when the east stands were constructed bringing the capacity to over 80,000. In 1986, luxury suites were added atop the upper deck.

Minor League Baseball teams moved in and out Mile High Stadium throughout its existence. After a wait of over 30 years, MLB award Denver an expansion franchise in the early 1990s. The Colorado Rockies began playing at Mile High Stadium in 1993. On opening day the club drew 80,227 fans, a record for single game. Although Mile High Stadium was primarily a football stadium, the club drew over 4 million fans in its first year. In order for the stadium to be turned into a baseball field, the east stands had to be moved in a single section which, when fully extended, formed a horseshoe configuration for football. When the section was retracted, the stadium was in position for baseball. The east stands consisted of a three-tiered structure, 535 feet long, 135 feet tall and 200 feet deep, weighing nearly nine million pounds, and that had to be moved a distance of 145 feet. In order to move the stands, more than 90,000 square feet of runways served as the operating surfaces over which the stands moved. Water was pumped onto the runways and formed a .003-inch sheet upon which the stands rested. Hydraulic rams then pushed the stands forward at the rate of three feet per minute, making the move last nearly two hours. While the Rockies played at Mile High Stadium, a new stadium for the club was built in downtown Denver. The Rockies drew three million fans in 1994. This prompted club officials to enlarge the new ballpark to a capacity over 50,000. The last Rockies game at Mile High Stadium was on August 7, 1994. The Rockies moved into Coors Field in 1995. However, the Denver Broncos continued to play at Mile High Stadium until the end of the 2000 NFL season. The stadium was demolished during the winter of 2002.