11 secrets of Sports Authority Field @ Mile High

Posted at 11:33 AM, Jan 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-22 13:33:18-05

Mile High Stadium.

The original baseball-turned-football stadium and its successor have been Denver icons since the 1940s.

But how much do you know about Sports Authority Field at Mile High? We talked to multiple people and poked into corners of the stadium to get the inside scoop.

Let's start outside.

Secret No. 1: There's a home plate in the parking lot.

Look closely in parking lot JJ. There's a set of steps, port-a-potties, dumpsters AND a white-painted home plate.

That home plate marks the spot where home plate sat at the original Bears Stadium, built in 1948 for the Denver Bears minor league baseball team.

The Denver Broncos started playing at the stadium in 1960.

In the late 1990s, the voters of the Denver area agreed to pay for a new stadium. The new Mile High was built in the parking lot of the old Mile High Stadium and the old stadium was torn down. But that little white home plate is a small reminder of the original stadium, and the original purpose of the old stadium.

Secret No. 2: Those strange sculptures outside the stadium are football equipment pieces

Near the stadium, by the Federal Blvd. entrance is Counties Gateway Plaza. If you look closely, you'll find seven sculptures in the plaza. Three are made of aluminum and four are made of marble.

The marble came from the Yule Marble Quarry. The same quarry that provided the marble for the Tomb of the Unknowns in Washington, D.C.

Each sculpture is a piece of football equipment. There's part of a face mask, chin strap, neck protector, shoulder pad, cleat, kicking tee and mouthpiece.

The teeth used for the mouthpiece? Former Broncos running back Terrell Davis, according to tour guide Steve DeWitt.

Secret No. 3: You can talk to the Broncos and get autographs as they enter the stadium on game day.

This is where the Broncos enter the stadium on game day -- the Southwest Tunnel near Gate 10.

However, you won't see the visiting team's players entering here. You won't see them at all.

The visiting team's bus drives into the stadium.

This is where the bus lets the players off. Right at the sign reminding the players they'll be playing at 5,280 feet in elevation.

And right next to the visiting player's locker room.

Secret No. 4: There are six locker rooms at the stadium - the Broncos locker room, the visiting team's locker room, the cheerleader's locker room, a locker room for high school team's playing at the stadium, a locker room for the officials and a locker room for the chain crew that measures first downs, etc...

The visiting team's locker room has several rooms including a locker room for the head coach, a locker room for the assistant coaches, a 75-locker room for the players, a shower room and a training room compete with hot and cold tubs.

There's one more on-field "player" who has its own locker room.

Thunder, the Broncos' mascot, has his stall on the field level.

There are three more rooms on the field level you don't want to visit.

Secret No. 5: There are "holding" rooms in the security area

Holding rooms is a nice way of saying jail cells.

These are for fans who Denver Police arrest during the game.

Interestingly, there are no locks on the doors, but there are handcuffs inside to make sure that anyone put inside doesn't leave until the police are ready to take them to the city jail, according to Asst. General manager Scott Bliek.

Let's head onto the field...

Secret No. 6: There are 2 tarps for the field.

There's the snow tarp, the thick one, created to keep moisture out.

There's also a grow tarp that allows the sun in, but keeps the frost out.

The grass at Sports Authority Field is 100 percent Kentucky Blue Grass that grows year round. It's not allowed to go dormant, DeWitt said.

Under the grass is 21 miles of heated pipes to help keep the grass green year round.

Sports Authority Field is one of the few stadium to have a flat playing surface. That's because that underground piping system also has a vacuum system that can drain the field of water during rain and snow storms.

Secret No. 7: The first four rows of the stadium seats are removable.

Did you notice in that last picture that the first few rows of seats are orange and the rest are blue? The orange seats are removable.

That's because Denver hopes to host a FIFA World Cup soccer game someday. FIFA needs a larger field, so the first rows are removable to create that larger field surface, DeWitt explained.

Secret No. 8: That's Bucky on top of the scoreboard

Have you ever noticed the horse on top of the Broncos main scoreboard - Thundervision?

That's Bucky the Bronco.

He's actually a 30-foot high replica of actor Roy Rogers horse Trigger. Rogers allowed the replica, but said it couldn't be named Trigger, DeWitt said. Fans named him Bucky.

Bucky was mounted atop the scoreboard in the original stadium, then moved to the scoreboard in the new stadium.

Did you notice the blinds in a window under the horse?

They kind of match the box at the top of the stadium on the opposite end.

Secret No. 9: There are three security watch boxes at the top of the stadium. Here security and police officers can monitor the crowds.

There are also 76 cameras mounted around the stadium, Bliek said.

Secret No. 10: There is a "mile high" row of seats.

It's hard to tell, but the seats on row No. 1 on the upper suite level are a mile high - 5,280 feet high, DeWitt said.

Unlike Coors Field, where the seats that are a mile high are purple, at Sports Authority Field those seats are the same color as all the others. You have to "know" where the mile high line is.

Secret No. 11: The stadium isn't just a football stadium.

While the Broncos host 10 to 12 football games at Sports Authority Field each year, the stadium actually hosts 250-300 events each year, Bliek said.

(Photos courtesy Sports Authority Field)

The stadium hosts weddings, proms, luncheons, Christmas parties, Bar Mitzvahs, on-field team building activities and other events.

125 to 150 people work at the stadium each day. On game days, that number swells to 3,000-3,500 with security officers, catering, concession workers, customer relations employees and others.

You can take a walking tour of Sports Authority Field that includes some suites and boxes, the field and the visitor locker room. Tours are $20. Learn more here.

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