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PLAY BALL! Colorado Sporting Facts

Compiled by Christopher Kolomitz

From lush green playing fields to brightly lit indoor gymnasiums, combined with a plethora of outdoor adventures in between, Colorado is a sports lover’s dream. Blessed with successful professional teams and a host of college, semipro and amateur champions, Colorado is a treasure trove of sports trivia and facts.

Olympic Dreams and Disappointment
Denver was originally selected in May 1970 to host the 1976 Winter Olympics. However, a statewide vote in 1972 caused organizers to withdraw. The initiative passed 59.4 percent to 40.5 percent, with only 865,000 people voting. The language forbade use of public funds through taxes, appropriations or loans to finance the games, although it’s estimated only $5 million was being requested.
The U.S. Olympic headquarters is in Colorado Springs and was moved there from New York in 1978. The city is also home to more than a dozen organizing bodies that are responsible for identifying, training and selecting specific athletes for international competitions.


First and 10
• The Denver Broncos franchise began with their first regular season game against
the Boston Patriots on Sept. 9, 1960 playing in the American Football League.
• Denver has played in seven Super Bowls, winning back-to-back title following the 1997 and 1998 seasons. The Broncos
have won their division 14 times since 1970.
• Denver’s Ring of Fame was started in 1984 and now includes 27 players.
• Colorado Ice is a semipro indoor football team playing games in Loveland.
• The University of Colorado were cochamps of what was then Division I in 1990.
• CSU-Pueblo Thunderwolves were crowned Division II football champions in mid-December 2014.

Around the Horn
• The first recorded baseball game in Colorado was played on April 26, 1862.
• In 1882, the Leadville Blues won the state’s league title. The team’s star, Dave Foutz, went to the majors, playing for St.
Louis and Brooklyn and winning 41 games as a pitcher in 1886.
• Denver was awarded a Major League Baseball team in July 1991. Before that it was minor league teams such as the
Bears and Zephyrs that had the attention of baseball fans. The Colorado Rockies played their first regular season game
on the road on April 5, 1993 and lost to the New York Mets. The team’s first home game was April 9 at Mile High Stadium
and was an 11-3 win against the Montreal Expos.
• The Rockies moved into Coors Field in April 1995. The same year they made their first playoff appearance as a wild
card. The venue hosted the All-Star Game in 1998. In 2007 they won the National League title before losing in the World
Series to Boston in four games. Their latest playoff appearance was in 2009.

 Round Ball Action
• Colorado’s first Denver Nuggets played in the National Basketball Association for one year only, 1949-50, then disbanded.
•  The Denver Rockets played in the American Basketball Association from 1967 until 1976, when they joined the NBA
and regained their Nuggets identity.
• Metro State University won NCAA Division II national titles in 2000 and in 2002. They were runners-up in 2013.

Icy Tidbits
• Colorado finally got a pro hockey team when the Quebec Nordiques were relocated in 1995 and renamed the Colorado
Avalanche. The team went on to win the Stanley Cup that first season in Denver, and then again in 2000-01.
• Current semipro hockey teams are the Colorado Eagles in Loveland, playing at the Budweiser Event Center, and the
Denver Cutthroats, who play at the Denver Coliseum.
• Opened in 1938, The Broadmoor Ice Palace was home to Colorado College hockey and notable figure skating clubs,
and it hosted the national championships from 1948-1957. In 1961 it was renamed Broadmoor World Arena and was
torn down in 1994. The World Figure Skating Museum and Hall of Fame opened in 1980 and is located in Colorado
Springs near The Broadmoor.
• The University of Denver has won the NCAA national hockey title
seven times: 1958, 1960, 1961, 1968, 1969, 2004 and 2005.

Mile High Venues
Minor league baseball was first played at Bears Stadium in 1948. The stadium later was renamed Mile High Stadium. It went through five major renovations in 1960, 1968, 1976, 1977 and 1986. Mile High closed in 2001 when a new $400 million stadium opened under the name Invesco Field at Mile High. Ten years and $6 million later, it was re-named Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
Opened in August 1974, McNichols Arena hosted basketball, hockey, arena football, ultimate fighting and indoor soccer before being demolished in 2000. The Nuggets played the NBA’s highest scoring game there in December 1983 when they lost in triple overtime to Detroit 186-184.
• The Colorado Sports Hall of Fame has 222 inductees. The first class
elected was in April 1964, and it never had a permanent home until 2001, when it moved into the new Mile High.
• Pepsi Center opened in October 1999 to replace McNichols and serve
as home to the Nuggets, Avalanche and Colorado Mammoth, a pro-
lacrosse team.

Soccer, Lacrosse and Rugby
• The Colorado Rapids play at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, which opened in 2007 in Commerce City. The venue features
24 additional playing fields and has been home to other sports like Gaelic football, kickball games and dodgeball
• Additional Colorado pro teams include the Denver Outlaws, who play outdoor lacrosse at Sports Authority Field, and the
Glendale Raports Rugby Club. The club was formed in 2007 and won a men’s national title in 2011. The women’s team
won their first title in November 2014.

An Original Colorado Sport
• Skiing in Colorado began as a way for miners, ranchers and mailmen to get around during the long winter months. It
has now progressed into a vital industry – 12.6 million people hit the slopes in the 2013-14 season. The state boasts 24
ski areas, with countless backcountry options available.
• An 1883 ski club near Irwin is believed to be the first documented recreational skiing organization in Colorado.
• Hot Sulphur Springs hosted the state’s first winter carnival and jumping competition in 1912.
• Ski Broadmoor opened in 1959 with a double chair. It was closed by the hotel in 1982 but remained partially open until
1989 by the City of Colorado Springs and Vail Resorts.
• Since 1954, the University of Colorado or University of Denver has won the NCAA national skiing championships 40
times. Most recently CU was champ in 2013, while DU was in 2014.
• The Colorado Ski and Snowboard Museum Hall of Fame is located in Vail.

Odds and Ends
Colorado’s only indigenous sport, pack burro racing, began as an idea of civic leaders in Fairplay as a way to attract visitors to the town. Melville Sutton won the inaugural Rocky Mountain Pack Burro Championship race in 1949, running alongside and dragging his burro 23 miles over 13,185-foot Mosquito Pass from Leadville to Fairplay. For his efforts he won $500 courtesy of the Rocky Mountain News. All other finishers received a case of beer, courtesy of the Hand Hotel.
• Established in 1979, the Pro Rodeo Cowboy Association Hall of Fame is located in Colorado Springs.
• The CSU-Pueblo men’s racquetball team has won 16 national men’s titles since 1996, including nine back-to-back titles from 2004-2012.
• Since 1958, Grand Junction has hosted the National Junior College Athletic Association baseball world series. Colorado has never had a champion at that level.
• The first Pikes Peak International Hill Climb was held in August 1916. Hot rod and drag racing at Bandimere Speedway started in 1958.