Colorado History

Sports Castle Sold: Plans Call for Pop-Up Events, Then Retail, Offices and a Penthouse

The Sports Castle is an unofficial landmark on Broadway.
The Sports Castle is an unofficial landmark on Broadway. NPU
The Sports Castle may not have official landmark status in Denver, but it's certainly one of the city's most recognizable — and beloved — buildings.

Now the structure at 1000 Broadway has a new owner: a partnership led by longtime Denver construction leader Tom McLagan, executive chairman of Hyder Construction, which also bought the parking lot across the street at 972 Broadway. The deal, which closed on August 25, was a year in the making.

But then, the building itself is almost a century old. It got its start in 1926 as the Cullen-Thompson Motor Company Building, a Chrysler showroom designed in the Beaux Arts style by Denver architect Jules Jacques Benedict; in the ’20s, this stretch of Broadway boasted several auto dealerships located in lavish quarters. (Three blocks away, Westword's office occupies another century-old car dealership building.)

The cars were gone when Gart Properties bought the structure in 1971, transforming it into the Sports Castle and using it as a flagship store for Gart Sports; it even had a ski slope on the top floor. Sports Authority purchased the sporting goods retail business in 1993; after it went bankrupt in 2016, the building stayed vacant except for occasional pop-up events.
click to enlarge The Sports Castle has been empty since 2016. - NPU
The Sports Castle has been empty since 2016.
According to the announcement of the sale, McLagan wants to have the building listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Renovation plans call for putting retail outlets on the ground floor, office spaces on the next two floors, and a new penthouse for offices or events on top. “The interior of the building is as unique as the exterior which we can transform into an incredibly creative office experience,” McLagan says in the deal announcement.

McLagan's team had previously won a Historic Denver award for the rehabilitation/adaptive reuse of the old DPS administration building/Denver Art Museum offices at 404 14th Street. "We’ve talked with the Garts and with Tom [McLaglan] several times over the years and in recent months, and the Garts clearly understood the significance of the building to the community," says Annie Levinsky, head of Historic Denver. "We are excited that there is now a preservation plan for the building, which is beloved and special. We’re also excited to see the preservation incentives, available to National Register properties, put into the mix."

According to the announcement, the renovation of the Sports Castle will not begin until 2023. The work will coincide with the completion of an apartment complex just to the north; Cypress Real Estate Advisors bought that property from the Gart family earlier this month.

Until then, the Sports Castle will be activated as an urban event space by Non Plus Ultra, a California-based company that transforms iconic properties into live entertainment least temporarily. 
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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun