Will the Sports Castle Survive After Sports Authority Store Closes?

Will the Sports Castle Survive After Sports Authority Store Closes?
7News via YouTube

In the days after your Denver Broncos won Super Bowl 50, the Sports Authority Sports Castle, at 10th and Broadway, was absolutely mobbed with fans buying keepsakes and collectibles.

We know — because the Sports Castle is across the street from Westword's offices.

But just over a week later comes news that the store will close along with approximately 140 Sports Authority branches across the country — a move being made as the company teeters on the cusp of bankruptcy.

Once Sports Authority moves out, what will become of the building? It's too soon to say — but potential buyers will have plenty of options, since, as 7News reports, the Sports Castle isn't a designated Denver landmark.

That's not to suggest it lacks history, as is clear from an Arts & Venues Denver account of its noteworthy past.

The Cullen-Thompson Motor Company.
The Cullen-Thompson Motor Company.

The Castle was built in 1925 by architect Jules Jacques Benois Benedict, who's also responsible for the Washington Park Boating Pavilion, at the behest of none other than Walter Chrysler.

And while its purpose was to house a Chrysler dealership dubbed the Cullen-Thompson Motor Company — you can see vehicles behind the windows in the shot above, from the Denver Public Library's Digital Collection — it was "modeled as a French castle complete with stone, parapets and a turret," the Arts & Venues piece points out.

The item adds: "The exuberant Gothic style building had projecting rooftop finials and stained glass windows, including some featuring the winged Chrysler symbol. Ramps that permitted the movement of automobiles to upper stories are still used in the building’s current incarnation."

Another unusual factoid from the piece: "A Dodge dealership in Shanghai, China, requested and received permission to replicate the design there."

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

In 1971, Gart Bros. purchased the building and dubbed it the "Sportscastle" — a name that mutated to "Sports Castle" over the years.

A Gart Bros. page boasts that "the Sportscastle featured over 100,000 square feet of sporting goods. The store featured seven levels of goods, sold by sales people who participated in the sports they sold....  It was the first specialty super store of any kind, featuring a tennis court on the roof, a full service travel agency, a ski machine and golf driving range."

Gart eventually merged with Sports Authority, but the store's traditions continued — among them SNIAGRAB ("Bargains" spelled backwards), an annual sale for which the most die-hard customers camped out along the side of the store.

Over the years, we've enjoyed covering the first appearance of SNIAGRAB tents — including in 2012, when Occupy Denver protested over the city allowing bargain-hunters' presence while at the same time installing an urban camping ban.

An urban-camping-ban protester outside the Sports Castle in 2012.
An urban-camping-ban protester outside the Sports Castle in 2012.
Photo by Sam Levin

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Thus far, Gart Properties, which owns the Sports Castle and the parking lot across the street, is mum about what it plans to do with the building.

The castle's future hangs in the balance.

Look below to see a 7News video about the latest developments.


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