I was at the Colorado Rapids Reserve Match in Sacramento in June (which as you remember the Rapids Reserves lost 4-3) and got into a conversation with a Sacramento Republic FC fan about their new facility Bonney Field and comparing it to Dick's Sporting Goods Park. There were obvious differences (size, beer prices, quality of the football) but there were nice similarities, such as pitch quality, passion of supporters, etc. But one thing that was a topic of debate was the location of Dick's Sporting Goods Park in relation to the rest of Metro Denver. His question was: how do I feel about Dick's Sporting Goods Park being out in the middle of nowhere?
It is a heck of a question and one that does not have a quick answer. I did state that while DSGP is farther away from the Downtown core, it is not in the middle of nowhere as he believed or may be the perception amongst soccer fans in the United States. I did agree that the lack of retail options immediately adjacent to the stadium does hurt attendance and makes it more difficult to get some of the more traditional things you might see at a soccer match. I made the point that our supporters group, Centennial 38, has done a tremendous job working around the lack of retail around the park by putting on a tremendous tailgate, and supporters walk. Not to mention the supporters busses that go from pubs to the stadium.
And although not "close", Northfield Stapleton is less then five minutes from the park.
So at the end of the match we parted company and I began to think more about the perception of DSGP and whether that is reality. I have heard often that "DSGP is too far out there so I don't go to matches." Or the "surrounding area is too dangerous to go to matches."
I will touch on the second point first:
No. The surrounding area is not too dangerous. People need to get over the perception of what Commerce City is. The soccer facility is a fantastic park and borders both Commerce City and Denver. I am not sure of the exact statistics, but I have been to home games at DSGP since 2008 and never had a problem.
The first point is a little more tricky.
What is too far for one person is not too far for another. So I started to look at how far DSGP is compared to the biggest sport in the Denver area, the Broncos of the NFL. I broke out the ole Google Maps and started plotting distances from the center of the city to DSGP and Mile High Stadium (sorry, it will always be Mile High to me).
|City||Distance to DSGP (in miles)||Distance to MHS (in miles)|
What does this all mean? I guess it depends on how you look at it. In one way, DSGP is positioned well for the Northern and Eastern part of the Metro. But if you live in the Western and Southern part of the Metro, let alone Denver, DSGP is not as convenient.
However, I am arguing that this is irrelevant. Dick's is where it is and there is nothing that can be done about it. Complaining about its location, or the lack of retail around the park does nothing but harm all of the good around the club. People who say that the park is too far, I say to them that you do not truly support this team. Supporters come from Colorado Springs to Fort Collins to see this team play. If you live in Denver Metro or the surrounding area and you are a Rapids fan, there is zero reason you can't make it out to the park.
I have had the privilege of attending a number of games in other soccer facilities and Dick's Sporting Goods Park is one of the finest in the land. Yes, it is a bit of a farther drive for some to get to matches, but the payoff is this: a great and growing atmosphere for families and supporters and one of the youngest and most exciting teams in Major League Soccer.