DU Field Notes: Professional Sports in the Mile High City
A majority of students at the University of Denver travel more than 500 miles to get here. That’s certainly true of the incoming class of first-year students, as approximately 70% of them are coming from outside Colorado.
For those new to the region, “Rocktober” and “The Can” may be unfamiliar terms. Newcomers also may not understand why sunsets are orange and blue. For all you non-Coloradans, here’s a quick guide to what you need to know about the teams that make Denver one of America’s best sports cities.
Welcome to Broncos Country
It doesn’t really matter if the Broncos are undefeated or completely defeated, Denver’s professional football team is always the talk of the town. Sunsets are orange and blue because the supreme being made them that way, and those who use the saying will also tell you they bleed orange and blue.
The Broncos have sold out every home game since 1970, the second longest streak in the NFL, behind only the Green Bay Packers. The Broncos’ on-the-field success began in the late ’70s, but flourished once Pat Bowlen took over team ownership in 1984. Over a span of 35 years, he led the franchise to seven Super Bowl appearancess and three championships. Bowlen was a member of the DU Board of Trustees, and he donated $1.5 million toward the construction of the Pat Bowlen Training Center in DU’s Ritchie Center for Sports & Wellness.
The Pepsi Center, affectionately known as “The Can,” is home to both the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche and the NBA’s Denver Nuggets.
While we all agree that our favorite team to watch on the ice is the Pioneers, the Avalanche are a good consolation prize. With professional sports back in action, the Avalanche are still alive in the hunt for the Stanley Cup. Besides the Broncos, the Avalanche are the only other major professional team in Denver to have won a national championship (1995-96 and 2000-01).
The Nuggets are the second oldest professional team in Denver, but the team has had only brief periods of success. The team has never competed in the NBA Finals, but they remain in contention this year. Perhaps the Nuggets’ best claim to fame is having one of the top mascots in all of sports. Rocky has been inducted into the Mascot Hall of Fame, and in 2013 he was named the “Most Awesome Mascot” by Cartoon Network.
Of the four major professional sports teams in town, the most affordable option for fans is the Colorado Rockies. When COVID-19 is not keeping fans from stadiums, you can always find cheap seats in the Rockpile or the Rooftop (also known as the party deck).
The expression “Rocktober” emerged during the Rockies’ 2007 season. That’s when the team won 21 out of 22 games on their way to the World Series. Colorado would eventually lose to the Boston Red Sox that year. However, “Rocktober” remains in use anytime the Rockies make the playoffs and continue play into October.
Outside of the four main sports, Denver is also home to professional indoor and outdoor lacrosse, rugby and soccer. The Colorado Rapids won the Major League Soccer Cup in 2010. Former DU student-athletes Kortne Ford and Andre Shinyashiki play for the Rapids. Last season, Shinyashiki was named the MLS rookie of the year.