A toast to the people and places in the Ballpark neighborhood

Before Coors Field opened in 1995, a group of hearty baseball/bar fans took a field trip to the neighborhood around the ballpark, drinking in one of the oldest parts of town, an area that would inevitably change. We started at the bar at the Nisei post on Market, which later became a sake bar at Mori, and now will be part of...whatever Lotus Entertainment is putting in that building. We moved on to the Bronco Bar (gone), Star Bar (still there, under new owners), El Chapultepec (still there, under the old owners).

We wound up at the Elbow Room, where the bartender locked the door at 2 a.m. and then proceeded to drink with us until dawn.

The Elbow Room is now a parking lot. I don't know what happened to the affable bartender, but both of my late-night companions there -- Rocky Mountain News columnist Greg Lopez and urban planner Karle Seydel -- have passed on.

Standing at Biker Jim's last week, looking over all the new places that have opened in the old storefronts along this stretch of Larimer Street in the shadow of Coors Field -- storefronts that were saved largely because of Seydel's efforts -- I decided that before Opening Day this year, I would toast the people and places that Denver has lost at the oldest bar remaining downtown.

The only question: What bar is that? The space now occupied by My Brother's Bar has held a saloon since the 1800s, but it's not quite downtown (although downtown is certainly headed that way). Star Bar is old, but not that old. The Oxford Hotel is definitely old, but the Cruise Room dates from the '30s.

I'm guessing that El Chapultepec may be the oldest still-operating bar downtown, but I'm taking other nominations....

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