But a story shared by Denver City Councilman Kevin Flynn suggests that Anschutz may prefer to let the Post die in order to replace it with a resurrected version of the Rocky Mountain News, which was shuttered in February 2009.
According to Flynn, Anschutz's right-hand man, the late Jim Monaghan, told him his boss simply wouldn't buy the Post because "he doesn't want to inherit the contracts." In other words, closing the Post would end the union contracts there, after which Anschutz could launch the Rocky as a non-union shop, like the Gazette.
This scenario isn't new. After the Rocky's collapse, Anschutz purchased its name and website, which currently functions as a news aggregator, and in December 2014, his minions publicly announced that they were exploring the idea of relaunching the tabloid, complete with page prototypes.
Here's an example:
More than three years later, Flynn's frustration over job cuts at the Post led him to take an unexpected position on a $9.6 million, ten-year agreement to rent office space in the 101 West Colfax building where the paper's newsroom was based until earlier in 2018. Most of the journalists are now working out of the same Adams County facility where the Post's printing plant is located.
On March 19, Denver City Council was scheduled to vote on the pact, and Flynn admits that "the terms of the lease are better than the last sublease we did with the Denver Post. The last one we did was too high by square foot, and I thought we were paying too much. But this one looks more in line with the market, and we really need the space downtown."
Still, Flynn goes on, "when I reviewed the agenda after the news about the layoffs, the optics of them laying off nearly a third of their staff and then the city giving them $10 million was too hard for me. So I called Tony Mulligan [at the Denver Newspaper Guild] and Kieran Nicholson [a Post reporter who serves as a guild officer] to make sure I wouldn't be doing anything more harmful — that it wouldn't lead to more layoffs or put anyone else at risk. And when they said the money would be sent out of the city and wouldn't save any jobs, I knew in my heart and in my gut that I couldn't vote yes."
"When the Rocky closed, among the folks I talked to about what my future was in town, since it obviously wasn't going to be in journalism if I was staying, was Jim Monaghan," he recalls. "I'd known Jim for years, and he told me the story — that Anschutz had bought up the rights to the Rocky Mountain News nameplate and the website, but his intent was that when the Post hit bottom, he would buy it up and then get rid of it. In other words, he would get rid of the Denver Post and use the furniture, fixtures and equipment to resurrect the Rocky Mountain News as a product."
Approximately four years later, a few months prior to Monaghan's May 2013 death, Flynn ran into him at the Denver Press Club's annual Damon Runyan dinner, "and I said, 'Jim, is Phil still planning to do that?' And Jim said, 'Oh yeah. Just keep watching.'"
Flynn stresses that "I don't know if Phil is still planning to do that now. I just know that's what Monaghan told me before he passed away." But from a financial standpoint, the only thing that's changed since then is that the Post has gotten closer to hitting that bottom.