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Reader: It Will Always Be Mile High Stadium, Regardless of Actual Name
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Reader: It Will Always Be Mile High Stadium, Regardless of Actual Name

On September 4, fans found out that the Broncos stadium has a new name: Empower Field at Mile High. Empower Retirement, a financial services company out of Greenwood Village, has cut a deal for the naming rights, closing an ugly chapter in Broncos history when the team couldn't seem to find anyone interested in slapping their name on the stadium.

While the Broncos are enthusiastic about their new partnership, fans aren't exactly cheering the new name.

Says Rafael:

It will forever be Mile High Stadium, regardless of what they name it.

Adds Mike:

Oh good, I am glad the Broncos are making more money off the stadium we built with sweet tax deals.

Explains Stacey:

Regardless of how much a company spends to have their logo or name placed on the stadium, those of us who have been here for a while will ignore the “proper” name and still call it Bronco Stadium or Mile High. So, basically, their advertisement isn’t worth as much. Sorry, big corporations, but we as Bronco fans respect our team and their home, not your corporation or your name! Just sayin’!

Notes Andrew:

Definitely the logical choice, since the Broncos love to pick up retiring quarterbacks.

Responds Ven:

You're saying the team that signed Case Keemun and traded for Joe Flacco in consecutive seasons might not be great at making moves?

Concludes Christopher:

This article nailed every problem with this directly on the head. I have a feeling that if this deal had been brought public early on, you would have heard a lot from the fans and the city saying that they didn't want this deal, but they kept it quiet for a reason.

Naming rights are said to have cost the company between $125 and $130 million over the course of the contract, which sounds like an enormous haul. But Darrin Duber-Smith, a marketing professor and senior lecturer at Metropolitan State University of Denver, as well as the state's acknowledged expert on sports sponsorships, points out that what amounts to approximately $6 million per annum is just over half the $10 million-or-more fee the team originally targeted. That's only one of several indicators that Empower is the deal's big winner and the Broncos took the "L."

"On the Broncos side, it looks funky," Duber-Smith says of the agreement to call the edifice Empower Field at Mile High. "You spent three years looking. You had the name of a dead company [Sports Authority, which went belly up in 2016] on the stadium for two years, and you refused to take it down. Then you finally took it down, but you didn't replace it with another venue-naming sponsor, so people got used to the Mile High Stadium name again. Then you announced, really without any warning, that an unknown company had bought the rights — and you announced it, without disclosing very much about it, to a very cynical fan base that's faced with one of the worst Broncos teams we've had since the 1960s."

The news isn't all bad for the Broncos. Empower, a division of the massive insurance behemoth Great West-Lifeco and the second-largest retirement planner in the U.S., is in much better financial shape than Sports Authority, which Duber-Smith had predicted early on would be bankrupted by paying to name Mile High — and while there were plenty of other factors that contributed to the retailer's fate, the stadium outlay certainly didn't help. Moreover, the team has a significant comfort level with Empower, which has been a Broncos partner since 2015.

And Broncos who anticipate being booted from the team will at least know where to go for retirement advice. What do you think about the new stadium name? Let us know in a comment or at editorial@westword.com.

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