Today, O.penVAPE, a Colorado-based manufacturer of vaporizer devices, cartridges and other marijuana-related products, is announcing that it has "submitted a proposal to partner with the Metropolitan Football Stadium District, home of the Denver Broncos, to sponsor Denver's landmark stadium."
The name the company envisions: O.penVAPE at Mile High.
This news comes on the heels of major developments with Sports Authority, which owns the naming rights for the stadium, currently known as Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
Earlier this year, Sports Authority revealed that it was headed for bankruptcy restructuring, leading to speculation that the stadium could be renamed. After all, Sports Authority must pay $3.6 million by August 1 to keep the name — something that was hard to imagine under its financially distressed circumstances.
We responded with suggestions of five new names for Mile High Stadium, including this one:
Then, in early March, Sports Authority formally filed for bankruptcy protection following word that it would close select Colorado stores, including the iconic Sports Castle at 1000 Broadway.
By the start of this month, the situation had deteriorated further.
Sports Authority said that it would be liquidating all its assets, making it very possible, though not certain, that all of its stores would close nationwide.
The only survival scenario involved an auction of those assets scheduled for May 16.
But on that date, Sports Authority reportedly filed paperwork confirming that it would be closing every store across the country after failing to find a white knight to buy the brand.
Meanwhile, the Broncos made their own filing in regard to Sports Authority's bankruptcy, arguing that the team must give written approval before selling the stadium naming rights or its sponsorship of the franchise.
Could this move have been prompted by O.penVAPE's interest in the naming rights?
It's certainly possible. A source tells us that the company submitted its letter of intent to the Broncos approximately two weeks ago.
O.penVAPE products are in more than 1,100 dispensaries worldwide, but it's certainly proud of its Colorado roots. The most recent post on its Facebook page celebrates the firm's current footprint — and appropriately enough, the journey begins with Colorado, as seen in this image:
The accompanying blurb notes that "O.penVAPE can be found in over 300 Colorado dispensaries" — more than a quarter of its global total.
The release about O.penVAPE's bid, on view below in its entirety, notes that the firm "envisions the stadium sponsorship as a platform to promote its non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD) wellness products," adding that "the proposal from O.penVAPE states that the company has the financial means to assume the obligations of the current naming agreement, which may cost more than $6 million annually, in a deal expected to last until 2021."
“We’re a rapidly growing global business, and we see the opportunity to align two iconic winning Colorado brands to reflect our state’s pioneering spirit and heritage,” notes O.penVAPE chief operating officer Jeremy Heidl in a statement. “Our company produces much more than innovative vape pens, and we intend to drive awareness around the use of CBD products as an alternative treatment for pain and other medical conditions, an issue specifically relevant to the NFL.”
This last point has been a controversial one. At present, marijuana remains a banned substance for NFL players, although in 2014, the threshold for a violation was raised from 15 nanograms per milliliter of urine to 35 nanograms.
Nonetheless, the league has thus far ignored calls by advocates such as ex-Denver Bronco Nate Jackson to allow players to use medical marijuana for pain relief.
O.penVAPE certainly supports this change. Also quoted in its release is Lance Johnstone, once a defensive end for the Oakland Raiders and the Minnesota Vikings.
“The NFL has the opportunity to be a leader in the sports industry to address pain management," Johnstone is quoted as saying. “I believe many active and retired players would appreciate working with O.penVAPE to support scientific research, dispel the stigmas of using cannabis, and provide safer treatment alternatives to league players.”
O.penVAPE stresses its research and development in the announcement of the stadium bid, including profiles of what it refers to as its "Organa Brands R&D Dream Team." We've included that document below as well.
How will the NFL react to this proposal? The league is very protective of its brand and was likely unamused by images like this one, which circulated shortly after limited recreational marijuana sales were legalized in Colorado circa 2014:
But O.penVAPE sources make it clear that its proposal is an extremely serious one.
Look below to read the complete news release and the dream-team profiles.