On This Date, April 17, in Denver Broncos History

Any Denver Broncos fan who has ever been to a game at the old Mile High Stadium needs to give some love to the old timers who donated money to keep a professional football team in Denver.

March 17 1967, the Denver Broncos faced a crisis when Metropolitan Denver voters turned down a bond issue to construct a new stadium for the team. Local fans came to the rescue, immediately organizing a non-profit group called the “DOERS” as a fundraising drive to improve the Bears Stadium and keep the Broncos in Denver.

The group raised $1.8 million to purchase Bears Stadium from its private owners, and presented the deed to the city.

Mile High Stadium was originally built by Bob Howsam in 1948 as a baseball stadium for the minor league Denver Bears. Located on a landfill, the original stadium only sat 17,000 people in bleachers on one grandstand that stretched from one foul pole to the other. It was called Bears Stadium.

In the late 1950s, Howsam teamed up with former Dodger general manager Branch Rickey to try to get a major league team in Denver. But in order for that to happen, Denver needed a larger ballpark, so the Bears Stadium was expanded to 23,100 seats. Plans for a major league team didn’t happen, leaving Howsam with debt and a stadium too large for a minor league team. Howsam turned to football.

In 1960, more bleachers were added to the stadium to raise capacity to nearly 34,000 and the Denver Broncos played their first game at the stadium on October 2, 1960 against the Oakland Raiders in the old AFL.

In 1966 when the AFL and NFL football leagues merged, one condition was that the Broncos Stadium needed to be expanded to at least 50,000 seats. In 1968 the City of Denver became the new owner of the property, added second and third decks of seating, and renamed it Mile High Stadium.

The 1970s saw continued expansion. After the Broncos sold out every game in their inaugural NFL season, the stadium was expanded. In 1974 the city used a $25 million bond to add more upper decks and increase capacity to over 63,000 fans.

Mile High Stadium


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