MORE

Sports Authority Field at Mile High: Neighbors question the city's sign standards

In its February newsletter, under the headline "PROPOSED SPORTS AUTHORITY SIGNS CONTROVERSIAL," local neighborhood organization the Sloan's Lake Citizens' Group encourages its membership to write the city in response to the potential additions to Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Because of its lighting and view plane implications, the issue has become a heated one in recent neighborhood discussions. implications, Tonight, the group will vote on an official stance.

The decision to come out in either support or opposition follows the same approach taken by a handful of other sites close to the stadium. In December, Jefferson Park United Neighbors voted 29 to 0 to oppose any additions to the stadium's existing sign plan, and at the January meeting of the Sloan's Lake Citizens' Group to discuss the changes, the general consensus was a negative one.

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

In a letter written to Greg Savage, the city architect in charge of collecting opinions on the proposal for additional signage at the stadium, Sloan's Lake Vice President Dennis Cox addresses the issues the group plans to consider for its vote tonight. In it, the group raises objections to the idea of amending the original plans for the stadium that were approved by a vote from the public when the field was still owned by Invesco.

"The adverse affect on surrounding residential neighborhoods is evidenced by emphasizing the size of the structure and overly commercialize and dominate the predominantly single-family and small-scale business form and context," he writes. "The current stadium architecture blends with the sky and deemphasizes its size as much as it can to allow a transition to the neighborhood character."

Cox's statement of concerns echo those broached at the group's January meeting, which was attended by stadium general manager Andy Gorchov during his tour to speak with the stadium's neighbors. In particular, neighbors worry that the additional Sports Authority branding, which would appear on all sides of the stadium in addition to the upper rim of the stands, would encroach upon their skyline and interrupt the area view plane. Its significant increase in size presents an additional issue for neighbors upset that structural changes are possible without their direct approval.

"The proposed lettering on the upper curved band comprises 5,097 square feet with 4,281 square feet of the Sports Authority name represented or 84 percent of the sign area," the letter continues. "Does this mean that the amendment is over eighty times what is currently allowed? The precedent this amendment sets allows current and future sponsors to install even larger signage without public approval."

In preparation for the city's final ruling on the signage, which is scheduled to take place next week on February 15, the Sloan's Lake Citizens' Group presents questions for Savage and planning board officials. These are the same ones they raised at their meeting with Gorchov -- namely, how often the new signs would be illuminated and how this will factor into the level of safety in the surrounding area.

Click through to see the organization's letter in its entirety.

February 2, 2012

Mr. Gregory A. Savage

Urban Design Architect/Project Coordinator

Development Services

City and County of Denver

201 West Colfax Avenue, Dept. 203

Denver, CO 80202

RE: Sports Authority Amendments to the Comprehensive Sign Plan

Dear Mr. Savage:

The Board of Directors of the Sloan's Lake Citizens' Group has identified the following issues for its membership to consider.

The proposal consists of additional signage identifying the name of the facility located at the upper seating area on three sides of the project, additional logo badge signage at the south entry, and smaller entry gate signs at six gates. The proposal seeks the following exceptions from the Comprehensive Sign Plan.

· From the View Plane Ordinance requiring the protection of mountain and city views.

· From the requirement that signs shall not be oriented or illuminated to adversely affect the surrounding area particularly nearby residential neighborhoods.

· From the requirement that the name of the sign sponsor does not occupy more than one percent of the sign area.

The View Plane Ordinance allows the stadium itself to penetrate the plane but not signage. The top of the current Invesco sign on the east elevation corresponds to the allowable height within the existing view plane. The proposed "Sports Authority Field" sign in the upper curved band violates this recommendation by the Design Advisory Committee prior to the construction of the stadium in 2001.

The adverse affect on surrounding residential neighborhoods is evidenced by emphasizing the size of the structure and overly commercialize and dominate the predominantly single-family and small-scale business form and context. The current stadium architecture blends with the sky and deemphasizes its size as much as it can to allow a transition to the neighborhood character. The Sloan's Lake and West Colfax neighborhoods have created parking and traffic controls with the city over the years that respect the interests of the neighbors and the Metropolitan Football Stadium District. We implore that this level of cooperation continue and the acknowledgment of the integrity of the current design standards established by countless citizen volunteer hours.

Just how much does the area for the name of the sign sponsor exceed 1% of the sign area? The proposed lettering on the upper curved band comprises 5,097 square feet with 4,281 square feet of the Sports Authority name represented or 84% of the sign area. Does this mean that the amendment is over 80 times what is currently allowed? The precedent this amendment sets allows current and future sponsors to install even larger signage without public approval.

Other questions still linger:

The number of times the signage will be lit. We keep hearing anywhere from 25 times per year to 365 days.

Why the "Sports Authority-Broncos at Mile High" sign cannot be lit on the two sides facing I-25 and Colfax while the other two sides facing the neighborhoods are lit the same times as the red outline band at the top of the stadium.

Is the architectural and parking lot lighting adequate to ensure that staff leaving the facility can do so safely?

The review process has been dysfunctional. The Federal Boulevard Partnership was engaged in May, 2011 and Jefferson Park United Neighbors (JPUN) was engaged in the process in September, 2011 yet SLCG was not notified until January where we first heard the Sports Authority proposal. Any notifications in November and December are met with suspicions regarding intent. Holiday parties are not constructive events for presenting complicated matters to the public. The Denver City Council and Planning Board must stop this behavior and change the process to require developers to engage into a pre-application review and dialogue with the RNOs before a plan is submitted to the city. This also applies to land use zoning issues where CPD and developers are in the habit of informing RNOs after rezoning applications are made and fees are paid. This deceptive practice allows the process to accelerate to the point where RNOs are precluded from taking constructive action.

On Wednesday, February 8 at the general membership meeting of the Sloan's Lake Citizens' Group, a vote will be taken to either support or oppose the amendments to the Comprehensive Sign Plan. We will inform you, Councilwomen Susan Shepherd, Robin Kniech, and Debbie Ortega, and the Denver Planning Board of the voting results.

Sincerely,

Dennis Cox

Vice President

Sloan's Lake Citizens' Group

Serving the Sloan's Lake and West Colfax Neighborhoods Since 1978

Below is the Sloan's Lake Citizens' Group's February newsletter:

Sloan's Lake Citizen's Group February 2012 Newsletter

For more information on the proposed updates to the stadium signage plan, read our earlier coverage.

More from our Business archives: "IKEA vs. Sports Authority Field at Mile High: Who'll have biggest signs?"