Sports Authority Field at Mile High: Signage decision extended to talk to neighbors

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Tim Tebow lit up Sports Authority Field at Mile High on Sunday, but plans to upgrade the corporate signage at the stadium are still causing a few sparks. As the deadline for public comment passed on Monday, the idea wasn't scoring any points with neighbors, which is why a final vote on the amendment has been rescheduled at least three times. Late last week, the board decided to move the date back more than a month, to February 15.

City officials estimate the public comment will now remain open until February 6.

The immediate goal of the latest delay is to guarantee more discussion with the stadium's neighbors before votes are cast, --and there's still a lot left to be said. Residents believe that light pollution will keep them up at night, property values will decline and that views will be impacted. They're circulating petitions and holding neighborhood meetings on the subject, while stadium manager Andy Gorchov and other stadium district officials have several neighborhood meetings scheduled for this week and next.

Tonight, for instance, the Sloan's Lake Citizen's Group will meet with district representatives to debate the issue. Rafael Espinoza, who is both a member of the group and a staunch opponent of the amendment to the comprehensive sign plan, plans to tackle the differences between the district's new intentions and the existing comprehensive sign plan. They don't match up, he says, which means taxpayers' wishes are being ignored.

"People don't want to rent or buy apartments with this giant sign looming over everything in the background," says Chad Reischl, co-president of the West Colfax Association of Neighbors. The group's board recently sent a letter to the Community Planning and Development department asking them to kill the amendment. "The signage spoils the view. With all the delays in the decision, my gut feeling is they started to get some opposition and felt the need to investigate this more."

The stadium district insists any changes will not affect the existing view plane, and a lumen study the district presented to city council last week suggests the signs won't be keeping property owners up at night. The district is working with a fully approved sign plan, and Denver planning and development spokesman Julius Zsako stresses that the district only wants to update it, not replace it.

"We recognize there are concerns about actual negative impact versus the more common subjective complaints just about how the signs look," Gorchov says. "When it comes to opinion, that's where we've got to get a better sense. But I can't say exactly whether there's room for compromise."

Although both the city and stadium currently remain mum on whether the deadline extension will bring with any changes to the proposal, it does come with the intention to discuss the issue with more angry neighbors.

"The stadium's a very high-profile building in the city, and obviously there's a strong emotional attachment to the Broncos," Gorchov says. "We knew there'd be a lot of public interest, and it's the public's building. We're not talking about something the people don't have a stake in."

Although some area residents cite zero interactions with stadium district reps until this week, they're not entirely sure that would change anything. "It's hard to say whether that would be helpful," says Reischl, who lives about twelve blocks from the field. "I don't know if it would change our position much."

Gorchov, who met with LoDo reps last night, says the goal of the extended deadline and the meetings that come with it is not to debate and come to a compromise as much as it is simply to encourage communication and interaction. His goal is to meet neighbors in person while attempting to clear up any misinformation that might have been spread. (Most recently, this includes a couple of the opposition's earlier size comparisons, in which a couple images were exaggerated for effect before being edited for bare facts, Espinoza says.)

"People having the correct information is certainly an important piece, as well as them hearing directly from us," Gorchov says. "I can't say for sure whether it's helping us get support or not, but I can say there's a huge benefit in meeting. We haven't necessarily gotten to the point where any compromises have been made from what we proposed."

More from our Business archive: "IKEA vs. Sports Authority Field at Mile High: Who'll have biggest signs?"

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