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Building the Colorado Rapids Experience Part 1: Getting In, Getting Out

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Making it easier to get in and out of DSGP is one way to make the experience more positive.

Toronto FC v Colorado Rapids Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

It’d be magical if we could transport Dick’s Sporting Goods Park to Downtown Denver alongside all the other sports venues. Unfortunately, multi-million dollar capital expenditures are not in the cards, so let’s look at a few ways to improve how fans get to and get out of DSGP and Commerce City with an eye to minimizing capital needs.

In Only, Out Only

It’s great that there are multiple ways to drive into the park, mostly off Quebec. For the average Colorado Rapids game my family arrives just before kickoff and faces zero traffic. For big games, traffic delays us 5-10 minutes.

But getting out can be another story. After a USWNT game last season we were stuck in the East Lot for an hour. Getting out of a typical Rapids game is more difficult than it needs to be. Psychology teaches us that our feeling about an experience is disproportionately influenced by the peak (most exciting) moment and the end. When you spend time in traffic leaving DSGP it puts an outsized damper on your perception of the whole day.

Prairie Parkway on the north side of the stadium is a great road but it’s used poorly. It’s kept a two-way street despite the obvious flow of traffic. 60th Ave and 59th Place could also be better utilized.

How You Do It

Ninety minutes before kickoff, Prairie Parkway becomes one-way eastbound from Quebec. This gives you three lanes to feed people into the westside dirt lot (regrettably my preferred lot) and the eastside season ticket holder lot. This is a 50% flow increase from two to three lanes and will likely mean no traffic builds up on that side of the stadium.

Altering Traffic Flow at DSGP

In addition, you clarify that 60th Ave is for ride sharing (Lyft, Uber) and handicapped dropoffs. They come in east on 60th, turn right on Victory Way, drop-off, loop out 59th Place and back out 60th to Quebec. Remove the parking spaces along 60th and reappropriate them for rideshare parking/hovering.

For the 90 minutes post-game, repeat in reverse. Prairie Parkway becomes one-way westbound from the STH lot to Quebec. The northernmost lane gets the traffic from the north-east corner of the STH lot, the middle lane gets the traffic from the driveway at the NE corner of the stadium, and the southernmost lane gets the traffic from the westside dirt lot. 50% increase in flow and less sketchy merging as people try to get out of the west lot.

Cost

The labor is already there, so at most you’re talking about a few directional signs.

Bonus

Offer a ticket package that includes a discount code both ways from Lyft.

Light Rail Shuttle

The Central Park Light Rail station is 3.5 miles south of the park. How do you make it simple for people to take the light rail and get to/from DSGP happily?

How you do it

It’s probably a bit far for bicycle taxis especially since there won’t be a return fare southbound until after the game. But worth talking to them.

A typical shuttle bus could probably make the roundtrip in 20 minutes (accounting for traffic). That means you’d need a few of them, like four. They can be contracted or rented, and you don’t need a CDL to drive a 15-person van. Fluid, for instance, rents them out by the hour. Maybe someone like Colorado Mountain Express would set up a partnership to use their vans/drivers during low-demand season at a discounted rate and shared advertising.

Cost

Buying vans would be expensive and a terrible idea. You could likely pull this off with contract/rental vehicles and labor for less than $800/game.

Bonus

Could waiting at the station be fun? Throw down a couple mini-goals and balls or a cornhole set. Local kids could set up a lemonade stand for charity and the Rapids match donations. What if there were Rapids-branded loaner bikes where you could pedal yourself and the shuttle could bring them back from the park?

Bike to the Park

Stapleton and Park Hill, immediately south of the stadium, are prime neighborhoods for the Rapids. Most of Central Park Boulevard is bike-friendly or has a dedicated bike lane all the way down to Montview. What if there were a bit of advocacy around biking to the game? It’s about a 45-minute ride from City Park east on Montview then north on Central Park.

How you do it

Three ticket reps or other staff start in City Park two hours before kickoff. They have a posterboard-type sign so they can be found. They bring backpacks or a trailer with some inner tubes, an air pump, and water. Ninety minutes before kickoff the ride departs.

Ride east to Montview & Central Park and pause for a 10-minute break, catch up, and add other folks. Then depart for DSGP and arrive about 60 minutes before kickoff. Lock up the bikes in a dedicated area, even if it’s just a temporary fence spot (like at a triathlon) with one security type person. Post-game you do it all in reverse.

For later night games you consider a bus/shuttle back to City Park. Remember that the post-game experience will influence memories more than the pre-game, so don’t leave people lonely pedaling in the dark!

Cost

Minimal hourly labor and occasionally the shuttle bus.

Bonus

Partner with a local bike shop, and they send a mechanic along on the ride. They get to offer paid services during the game like tune-ups, tire swaps, etc. They’d likely have a travel service vehicle, already decreasing the startup costs. Sell some co-branded Rapids-logo bike gear on the ride and at the shop to promote both businesses.

Potential Results

Cut down the annoyances of getting into and out of DSGP and fans are going to look forward to coming back. When they come back they build attendance momentum and bring more friends along the next time.