Off Limits

Stood up...

Some time next year, the district will put out a call to artists, soliciting bids and designs. And that call will go to artists from all over the country, not just Colorado. "That's all part of the discussion," adds Leid, "but we are still very much in the talking process." The district has given the committee $217,000 to work with, but committee members eventually hope to raise another $1 million to $2 million for the project by selling paver bricks, seats from Mile High Stadium and other souvenirs.

So what kind of artwork does the true blue-and-orange, beer-swilling Broncos fan like?

"We'd direct an artist to buy into a theme of achievement or sport," Leid says, "but this committee is looking at all angles. We want types of art that don't get lost or take away from the grandeur of the building."

Art house: No collection is complete without a world-class stadium.
Art house: No collection is complete without a world-class stadium.

The Broncos are such an important artistic institution that the Denver Art Museum bond campaign, which is trying to pass a $62.5 million initiative on November 2, will be holding a big pre-election fundraiser (contribution: $25 per person) on October 21 in the locker room at Mile High Stadium, where art is in the jockstrap of the beholder.

"The reason that the rally is at the Broncos locker room," says a museum spokeswoman, "is because we are sort of playing on, well, a) that it's a pep rally, but b) we already know that Denver is a great sports town, and the citizens have funded the building of Coors Field and the building of the Pepsi Center and the new Broncos stadium, and in order to make Denver a world-class city, we need to start paying some attention to the cultural facilities to make it a world-class place to live. The mayor has often talked about how when you visit other great cities in the world, Florence and Paris, you don't go to watch their baseball games, you go to visit their great cultural institutions."

Would someone please hand Shannon Sharpe a fig leaf?

Big hits
Country-music fans were on high alert earlier this month when it was reported that Garth Brooks and his wife, Sandy, were looking at a $5.5 million, 21,000-square-foot mansion just north of the city. The Nashville superstar is apparently in the market for a second home in Colorado. But if Brooks decides to start making mortgage payments in Longmont, they will be on top of the rent he already pays in Denver.

Brooks is the co-founder of -- and covers all of the overhead expenses for -- the Touch 'em All Foundation, a nonprofit charity with a six-person staff that works out of an office at 1400 South Colorado Boulevard. The foundation's name refers to the baseball expression for a home run, and Brooks, a well-known baseball fan, has signed up about seventy players -- including the Colorado Rockies' Larry Walker, Mike Lansing, Mike DeJean, Jerry DiPoto and Curtis Leskanic; former Rocks Walt Weiss, Eric Young and Ellis Burks; and all-around All-Stars Tony Gwynn, Roger Clemens and Ken Griffey Jr. The players have all agreed to cough up cash based on their on-the-field performances in specific categories: $1,000 for a home run, $200 for a stolen base, $500 for a double, $100 for a base hit, $300 for a save, and $100 for a strikeout. Celebrities like Brooks, or corporations and other nonprofits, then match the donations, which go to good causes. But so far, the foundation hasn't signed up many celebrities, says executive vice president Don Johnson (no, not that Don Johnson).

"We told the players we weren't going to publicize [who gave how much], because some guys give more than others in specific categories. Larry [Walker] is great, though. Larry sent half of his halfway through the year."

So far, Touch 'em All has only collected about half of the $831,000 that's been pledged. No matter: The foundation has yet to decide what charities to donate to, although "we've committed to [the players] that 100 percent of the monies they raised will all go to kids' charities," Johnson says.

Johnson doesn't know anything about Garth's Colorado house-hunting, but he does know that Garth's foundation is in Denver -- rather than Nashville or even San Diego, where Brooks roped himself a six-week stint playing left field for the Padres during spring training -- because of the singer's partner and foundation co-founder, Bo Mitchell. "Garth just didn't want it in Nashville, and it being a national foundation, it was just convenient, since Bo lives in Denver," Johnson says.

Mitchell is a former University of Colorado athlete and minor-league baseball player turned motivational speaker and chaplain for the Denver Nuggets. He met Brooks five years ago while Mr. Friends-in-Low-Places was in Denver for a concert. "Garth wanted to take batting practice with the Rockies, and one of the guys in the band knew Bo, and he called and asked if he could help out," Johnson explains. Mitchell not only got the strapping, 220-pound Brooks a day of batting practice with the Rockies, but he also called Johnson, at the time the vice president of marketing for the San Diego Padres. Johnson, a former Denver Nuggets employee, ditched San Diego for a job at the new Denver-based foundation, but not before he was able to help Brooks secure his spot on the Padres' spring-training lineup this year. "He loves baseball," Johnson says. "He has had a passion for it all of his life."

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