In late March, all thirteen locations that Henderson-based United Flea Markets operate around the country were temporarily shuttered over the coronavirus. While the markets, including Mile High Flea Market, were closed, United Flea Markets head Rob Sieban says his company started getting inquiries from national promoters looking for alternative locations for concerts as well as trade shows and corporate events.
“Flea markets came to the top of the list for them, and we're the largest flea-market ownership group in the country,” Sieban says.
Mile High Flea Market, which is located just outside of Denver, has about eighty acres, and Sieban says it’s naturally equipped to handle very large groups of people, sometimes up to 30,000 on a Sunday. He's eager to benefit the live-event industry, make some money and put his grounds to good use.
“We host a lot of people every weekend, and we're well equipped to do that from a facilities and operations perspective,” he says. “So we feel this is a really good fit, and we think we can do a good job for our concert promoters as well as corporate and event planners.”
Sieban says a national promoter plans to hold concerts nationwide, possibly running a circuit at flea markets between California, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina and Florida; there would be stops in Denver and Colorado Springs. Mile High Flea Market is in the process of finalizing a two-year agreement to bring in concerts, and four to six headliners are being lined up now. The first show could take place within the next four weeks.
While Mile High Flea Market, which originally opened in 1976, has primarily had local bands play on its stage in the past, bigger acts like John Michael Montgomery have also played there. For larger shows, promoters will bring in their own stages.
There are no permanent seats or bleachers at Mile High like there are at amphitheaters or traditional concert venues. The space would be set up so that groups of concert-goers would tailgate at an appropriate social distance from each other. And while the grounds could hold upwards of 15,000 people at half capacity, outdoor concerts are currently limited to no more than 175 people without a county variance approved by the state.
Before reopening their markets over the past two months, Sieban says his team studied safety and facility management around the virus.
“We have a lot of strong protocols in place, and we're managing the business accordingly,” Sieban says. “We're working with fire safety and health departments to make sure that we have everything we need.”