By Tom Barry
The Denver Broncos could use some good news – and now they have it.
The team has been the favorite NFL team to win the Super Bowl this season, but in just this last month, the team has been in a self-destruct mode. Two top assistants have been charged with DUIs, a star player is facing an NFL four-game suspension, while other top players are out for the season from training camp after suffering injuries.
The good news is out of Dove Valley. According to a trusted source aware of the development plans who requested anonymity, the Broncos are intending to construct a $30 million indoor practice facility and other structures on land immediately west of the team’s current training center.
The vacant land is just west of the Broncos practice fields and next to the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Administration Building.
The landowner, Dove Valley Business Park Associates and the Denver Broncos Football Club, have hired David Berwanger of DAB Engineering to represent them before the Arapahoe County Board of Commissioners.
County commissioners have already approved a right-of-way on the vacant property. Berwanger requested a delay to modify the plan, said Carol Kuhn, a planner with Arapahoe County Planning Division.
Broncos slow to comment
The Villager initially contacted Patrick Smyth, executive director of media relations for the Denver Broncos Football Club, who said he was unaware of two zoning-related signs adjacent the Broncos property that noted public hearings.
“This does not involve the Denver Broncos,” said Smyth, who denied knowing anything about any potential development or zoning issues.
Smyth later called The Villager four times within three minutes.
“Our organization is continuing to explore the possibility of expanding our training facility [at Dove Valley] and we are currently going through the appropriate process with Arapahoe County,” he said in a later phone interview. “… The Broncos are going through the steps to build an indoor training facility, including a full indoor field for us to practice indoors in case of inclement weather and expand the overall space of our facility. This is a preliminary stage of this process and nothing has been finalized.”
The Broncos executive said he would verify that the land was owned by the Broncos and not leased, but had not followed up, nor returned calls and messages at press time.
A $1 billion team
John Elway is now at the helm of managing players and coaches, along with business operations for the team that began in 1960. The former quarterback and two-time Super Bowl winner directs the day-to-day operation of the team owned by Pat Bowlen.
According to Forbes.com, in August 2012 the team was valued at just over $1 billion with per-fan revenue at $46 – earning gate receipts of $60 million.
When the Broncos began playing in the old American Football League, they practiced at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden for a couple of years, according to a pro-football-reference.com. Over the years, the popular NFL team has had training camps
at Colorado State University, a facility in Adams County, Cal Poly Pomona in California and at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley.
In 1990, the Broncos moved into a new training facility at Dove Valley, which for all practical purposes at that time was in the middle of nowhere.
The Paul D. Bowlen Memorial Broncos Center at 13655 Broncos Parkway is named for Pat’s late father. The center has a mailing address of Englewood but is located in both Centennial and unincorporated Arapahoe County.
The current training facility has a conditioning center, a training area, a 9,000-square-foot weight room and a cafeteria that seats 120 people.
“The Broncos’ facility—situated on 13.5 acres in the rapidly expanding Dove Valley Business Park in south Arapahoe County—also includes an administrative building and three full-size practice fields to go along with the Conditioning Center,” according to the Broncos official website.
“The Bowlen Broncos Center is a two-story building totaling 90,000 square feet, well over three times the size of the team’s previous facility. The ground floor houses the main entry, visitor’s area, trophy display area and media room, in addition to the football-related facilities, which encompass the locker room, meeting rooms, training area, weight room, equipment room and video department,” the Broncos site says.
This NFL contender has second-floor offices, which allow coaches and team executives to view the adjacent practice facility to the west.
The team utilizes three fields, two grass fields and one field that has a synthetic surface composed of rubber and synthetic fibers and includes a sand infill, allowing the players to practice year-round.
During lightening storms and major snowstorms, the team travels by bus to the South Suburban Parks and Recreation District sports complex about one mile away. The Broncos occasionally rent the Sports Dome from the district.
The dome is also commonly referred to as “The Bubble.”
Zoning changes at Dove Valley
The Arapahoe County Dove Valley development is approximately 572 acres and spans into the edge of Douglas County to the south.
Recently, there were two large county signs posted immediately west of the Broncos training facility. A massive yellow sign with large red letters that read “Notice of Public Hearing for Vacation of Right-of-Way V13-002.” Another large white sign with red and black lettering read, “Notice of Public Hearing for Master Development Plan Amendment Z13-002.”
“The right-of way issue went before the Board of County Commissioners on May 21,” said Jan Yeckes, division manager of the Public Works and Development Planning Division. “The Master Development Plan issue went before the county’s Planning Office and is in the process and has not had any scheduled hearing. The plans are not expected back until mid-August before [being] scheduled for the planning commission,”
County planner Carol Kuhn said, “The bottom line, in the public hearing it was approved that the landowner may vacate 0.78 acres of land of public street right-of-way. South Wheeling Court was never built and the case has been closed out. In essence, the county commissioners’ decision allows the property owner to join the land pieces together and eliminate a right-of-way for a driveway. There were not any monetary exchanges in this process.”
The vacant land west of the current leased Broncos facility would be allowed to “add hotels and motels, conference and meeting facilities and recreational facilities for both public and private uses,” she added.
According to Yeckes, Broncos representatives pulled the application back and asked the planning staff to do some signage changes on the property.
“They needed to address this issue with their application to amend their Master Development Plan and to change and expand their application and address the issues to make the changes to address the signage and deal with sizes, heights, materials and different signs they would like to incorporate into their MDP,” she said.
Yeckes said there will be a public meeting with the Planning Commission and Board of Commissioners, but the dates have not been scheduled.
“Typically, after the developer gets their MDP approved, then we would do the site-plan work, which takes around 60 days and does not include a public hearing,” she said. “Public hearings for the MDP have not been scheduled and are expected early fall or later.”
Currently both tracks of land, the Broncos Training Facility and the adjacent vacant land abutting the Arapahoe County Justice Center, are leased to the Denver Broncos.