Sports Authority Asset Liquidation: Sports Castle Future, Stadium Name Up in Air

A TV truck in front of the Sports Authority Sports Castle this morning. Additional images below.
A TV truck in front of the Sports Authority Sports Castle this morning. Additional images below.
Photo by Michael Roberts

Update: In early March, we reported that Sports Authority had filed for bankruptcy protection after announcing the closure of select Colorado stores, including the iconic Sports Castle at 1000 Broadway; see our previous coverage below.

Now comes word that Sports Authority is liquidating all its assets, making it very possible, though not certain, that all of its stores will close nationwide.

Forbes originally reported that the all-stores closure was a done deal. However, the magazine subsequently published a clarification, noting that Sports Authority had informed a U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware that it had abandoned its effort to reorganize under bankruptcy laws. Instead, it will "pursue a sale," with most of its assets slated to be auctioned off on May 16.

If a buyer emerges in the meantime, some of the stores could be saved. But given the tight time frame, it's just as likely that they'll all be shuttered.

Sale signs at the Sports Castle parking lot.
Sale signs at the Sports Castle parking lot.
Photo by Michael Roberts

This turn of events adds urgency to questions about the Sports Castle, located across the street from Westword's offices, and the name of Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

Regarding the former, the Sports Castle property, which includes a sizable parking lot, is worth plenty in Denver's booming real-estate market. But because the main building hasn't been officially designated a historic structure, a new buyer might not need to retain its facade or other features. Ditching them might well make financial sense, but it would also be guaranteed to incense a goodly portion of the local populace.

As for the stadium name, Sports Authority must pay $3.6 million by August 1 to keep it — something that's hard to imagine under the current circumstances. Odds have suddenly increased that your Denver Broncos will be playing at a stadium with a different moniker in the very near future.

Continue for our previous coverage.

The Sports Authority Sports Castle at 1000 Broadway. Additional images and more below.
The Sports Authority Sports Castle at 1000 Broadway. Additional images and more below.
7News via YouTube

Original post, 7:03 a.m. March 2: A couple of weeks back, we reported about Sports Authority's plan to close three Colorado stores, including the iconic Sports Castle at 1000 Broadway, as the company teetered on the brink of bankruptcy.

Said teetering is now over. 

Today, under the heading "A Message From Our CEO About Our Restructuring," the company posted a letter from Chief Executive Officer Michael Foss confirming that the corporation is filing for bankruptcy in the face of debt that could exceed $1 billion.

No surprise that Foss portrays the move in the most positive way possible. "We have decided to utilize the Chapter 11 process to implement a financial and operational restructuring that we believe is necessary to help us become an even better place for our customers to shop for sporting goods," he writes.

However, the missive, on view below in its entirety, leaves plenty of questions unanswered.

The Sports Castle circa the 1920s, when it was known as the Cullen-Thompson Motor Company.
The Sports Castle circa the 1920s, when it was known as the Cullen-Thompson Motor Company.

For instance, the number of anticipated store closures remains at 140 nationwide, with sources pointing to at least three in Colorado: the Sports Castle, a branch at 9000 East Peakview in Greenwood Village and an S.A. Elite outlet on Boulder's Twenty Ninth Street mall. Also targeted: a Denver-based distribution center.

But there are no guarantees that the Colorado shutterings will stop there, especially if the company is sold as a whole or in part.

According to 7News, the firm "has received interest from third parties that may want to invest in or buy some or all of the business" — and a new owner could very well find more fat to cut beyond the stores currently on the chopping block and the approximately 20 percent of Sports Authority's current 15,000-employee work force expected to be impacted by downsizing.

And then there's the Sports Authority name on Mile High Stadium. The company says there are no plans to pry its logo from the venue anytime soon, but it must pay $3.6 million by August 1 to keep it there — which is why we've already come up with a slew of suggestions for alternatives, including The Med Zone One Mile High and Moon Pie at Mile High.

Continue to read the Foss letter, followed by one of eleven bankruptcy court filings bearing today's date.

The Gart Bros. Sports Castle.
The Gart Bros. Sports Castle.

"A Message From Our CEO About Our Restructuring."

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March 2, 2016

Dear Sports Authority Customers,

During the past several months, we have been working very hard to adapt our business to better meet the needs of our customers. We are committed to evolving as a company so we are ableto continue to offer the best brands at great values — both in our stores and on our website, SportsAuthority.com.

With these goals in mind, we have decided to utilize the Chapter 11 process to implement a financial and operational restructuring that we believe is necessary to help us become an even better place for our customers to shop for sporting goods.

Due to the changing retail environment, we have a long-term plan to streamline and strengthen our business so we can continue to make necessary investments in our operations, including upgrading our in store experience and enhancing our website. As part of that plan, we have identified approximately 140 stores that we intend to close or sell in the coming months. This was a tough decision to make, but we believe it was a necessary step in our plan to make Sports Authority an even better partner for our customers. The store closings will occur over the next three months.

While no stores are being shut immediately, if the store where you regularly shop is ultimately closed, you can use the Store Locator on our website to find the nearest Sports Authority location. In addition, you always can find all of our brands at the same great values online at SportsAuthority.com.

Most importantly, I want to emphasize that our customers should not be affected by this restructuring process.

• We do not expect there to be any impact on gift card balances or your ability to use gift cards at our stores or online at this time.

• In addition, there should be no changes to our return/exchange policies at our go-forward stores or our customer loyalty program, The League.

• If you have a warranty on a product you bought at Sports Authority, it is still in effect for the same period of time.

• Finally, this should have no impact on the way you use your Sports Authority credit card or pay your bill.

In short, we are continuing to operate our stores and website, and we remain fully committed to delivering value and great brands wherever you shop at Sports Authority.

If you have any questions, or would like more information about the Chapter 11 case, including access to Court documents, please visit www.kccllc.net/sportsauthority or call the information line at:

Toll Free (USA and Canada): 866-967-0490
International Callers: 310-751-2690

Thank you for your continued support!

Sincerely,

Michael Foss,
Chief Executive Officer


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