What Happens When You Drink Too Much at Mile High Stadium?

Aftermath in the parking lot outside of Rocky Mountain Showdown.
Aftermath in the parking lot outside of Rocky Mountain Showdown. Conor McCormick-Cavanagh
Every year, undergrads and alumni of CU Boulder and Colorado State University gather to see their teams compete for college football bragging rights. The Rocky Mountain Showdown might not garner national attention like the Auburn and Alabama game, but it's still fun to see two of Colorado's biggest college football programs duke it out on the gridiron.

This year, the game took place at Broncos Stadium at Mile High on Friday, August 31. Fans showed up hours before the game, took out their grills and started drinking. Typical for a college football pregame, some fans drank a bit too much.

Denver Health's Denver CARES Detoxification and Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation facility, located at 1155 Cherokee Street, treats people with serious heroin addictions, alcohol dependency, and those overserved at a football game at Mile High. Some go there for ninety days, or a five-day detox, or to sleep off a wild night. Seventeen people were transported from the stadium and parking lot to the detox facility last Friday, according the Denver Sheriff Department.

"Friday's game is very busy. We end up having extra sheriff department vans that can run right to detox," says Scott Bliek, the assistant general manager at the stadium.

click to enlarge Sheriff vans park outside the stadium to take any serious law-breakers in. - CONOR MCCORMICK-CAVANAGH
Sheriff vans park outside the stadium to take any serious law-breakers in.
Conor McCormick-Cavanagh
Seated on a bench outside Denver CARES the morning after the game was a bespectacled man in his thirties wearing a CU Boulder shirt.

Jim, who asked that we not use his real name, doesn't drink often, maybe once a year, he said. On Friday night, he had three mixed drinks and a beer. Midway through the third quarter, he threw up on the floor below his seat. He and his friends cleaned it up, but stadium security wound up paying them a visit. He said he didn't argue with them, but they told police he was being hostile. He was transported to Denver CARES after blowing a .1 BAC.

Jim is not facing any legal repercussions, but he has to pay a $315 bill from Denver CARES.

"It's a giant room with a whole lot of beds," he said of the detox facility. "There were a lot of college kids. I tried to sleep and drink as much water as possible, but there was no quiet."

As he pointed out, some fans never even made it to the game. Paul was one such fan.

click to enlarge Benches outside Denver Cares where discharged patients wait to be picked up. - CONOR MCCORMICK-CAVANAGH
Benches outside Denver Cares where discharged patients wait to be picked up.
Conor McCormick-Cavanagh
Wearing a CU Boulder shirt and a backwards hat, Paul, who also asked that we not use his real name, walked out of the facility around 10:30 a.m. on Saturday. Paul went too hard pregaming in the parking lot and wound up sprawled out on the grass. After being approached by security, the senior engineering student at CU Boulder blew a .28 BAC.

"I just read," in the detox facility, he said. "There are books there, but I don't remember what book I read. They don't turn the lights off, and there's nothing to eat until 7 o'clock."

After spending a bit of time at the facility, Paul was convinced that he was fine to leave and asked to blow into the breathalyzer. Temporary visitors like Paul and Jim have to blow a double zero before they can leave.

Paul blew a .22 BAC. He blew five more times before finally reaching the long-awaited double zero.

Friday's game wasn't the first time that Paul was apprehended for being too drunk. When he was a freshman, he got sent to jail for public intoxication. "Jail was better," he said, adding that he got a pen and paper to pass the time.

But detox wasn't all bad, either. Staff made Paul and others in the facility aware of CU's beatdown of CSU on Friday night. "That was sick," he said.

Paul also got a bill from the center but plans to not pay it. "It's a fucking half-grand," he said.

Deciding to treat himself, Paul splurged on an Uber XL ride back to Boulder. Asked what he would do when he got home, he smiled and said, "Not drink, that's for sure."
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Conor McCormick-Cavanagh is a staff writer at Westword, where he covers a range of beats, including local politics, immigration and homelessness. He previously worked as a journalist in Tunisia and loves to talk New York sports.