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Neighbors of Sports Authority Field at Mile High worry about light pollution

The Occupy Denver encampment is not the only city feature to be called an eyesore in recent weeks. Plans to add more, bigger and brighter corporate signage to the Sports Authority Field (previously known as Invesco) are already under attack by neighbors who worry about light pollution from the stadium.

They prefer their peace and quiet to a constant reminder to buy last season's North Face fleece at a 25 percent discount. Stadium officials prefer commerce.

The plan comes as a direct result of Sports Authority's $150 million deal to replace Invesco as the corporate sponsor named on the front of the Denver Broncos' home. The proceeds from the deal are divided evenly between the team and the Metropolitan Football Stadium District, but not all who live in the area are pleased with the new branding implications.

The plan that the stadium district has asked the city to approve includes installing signs with the new name on the north, east and west sides of the venue. At least three neighborhood meetings have already been called to discuss the proposal before the city's planning and zoning boards vote on the new signage plan next month. If the stadium district is given permission to go ahead, the intention is for all signs to be installed by the spring of 2012.

A preview image of the proposed changes to the stadium's exterior.
A preview image of the proposed changes to the stadium's exterior.

The largest -- and most controversial -- of the possible changes is a large Sports Authority badge, which would be permanent and illuminated upwards, rather than backlit like earlier signs on the stadium. Since it would be placed at one of the highest points at Sports Authority Field, neighbors worry the neon signage will create light pollultion.

Since the naming rights changed hands in August, the stadium has worn temporary signs giving the new name. But the more permanent plans have been a tense topic at recent public meetings.

Some neighbors have expressed worries over how bright the lettering will be and how much sleep it could cost them, while others simply object to the change in aesthetic. A small group of detractors have started aChange.org petition on the subject, and though it's collected fewer than 100 signatures, comments posted there indicate why some neighbors find the proposal so unfavorable. On Facebook, the movement to challenge the extra signage is led by a group called Keep Sports Authority Rebranding Out Of Denver Mountain Views.

"I am signing this petition because I am tired of corporate graffiti," writes Tom Blyth. "Just because Sports Authority has purchased the naming rights to a building with a sizable blank space on it they cannot be allowed to scrawl their tag all over the side of this publicly funded building. If this was a kid with a spray can he would be arrested and tried for the damage that he inflicted upon the neighborhood.We should demand no less respect from our corporate neighbors."

Some critics of the plan say the signs will discourage sports fans from visiting the venue:

"The proposed signage is too high up, large, bright, obtrusive, and ill-designed. The concept is tacky and won't endear Sports Authority to its potential customers; in fact, it will drive customers away if allowed. This is an extreme and crass example of corporate branding.

The Invesco sponsorship that lasted ten years had a substantially smaller corporate presence on the stadium, but Andy Gorchov, head of the stadium district, assured 7News that the new signs will not negatively alter the views of those in the neighborhood. "The district hopes people won't notice a difference at all as far as the lights," he said.

The final decision will be made after a review by the Community Planning and Development Department, which is excepting public comment on the issue until January 9. (That deadline has been extended more than once -- most recently by Denver councilwoman Susan Shepherd.)

Here's the entire Sports Authority Field at Mile High's comprehensive sign plan:

Sports Authority Comprehensive Sign Plan

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