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New Broncos CEO and Owner Greg Penner has promised to “spare no expense” to help better the organization. Turns out he wasn’t kidding — even if that expense seems completely ridiculous.
This week, Penner made the decision to have the entire field at Mile High replaced, a task that comes with a whopping $400,000 price tag. Empower Field has a grass playing surface — not an artificial turf — that is showing signs of wear and tear.
“After our last home game and following a perfect storm of significant activity combined with inclement weather, the field was simply not up to our standards,” Broncos President Damani Leech said. “Our turf crew and stadium management had a window to install it, we took advantage of it and they got it done.”
Makes perfect sense… except that the field will only be used for one game. The 4-12 Broncos will take on their AFC West rival Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday before heading home to watch the Playoffs from their living rooms.
Still, Broncos players are applauding the gesture.
“We appreciate Broncos ownership replacing our field — even for just one game — to give the players a better and safer surface than the previous two games,” Broncos kicker and union rep Brandon McManus said. “It means a lot that Greg and the owners took action after the field didn’t play or look up to the standard.”
With an increased focus on athletes’ safety, it makes sense that Penner wanted to get this done. But it does make you wonder if improvements could have been made to the playing surface without replacing the entire thing with just one game remaining.
More than just the field is a mess for the Broncos.
Denver fans had mile high hopes for the season after the team traded for veteran quarterback Russell Wilson in the offseason. But those hopes quickly faded with an uninspiring offense, 22 players on injured reserve (at the time of publication), and the dismissal of head coach Nathaniel Hackett before he could even finish his first year.
“This season has been more difficult than we expected,” Penner said on Dec. 27, the day after Hackett was fired. “It’s not the season we were hoping for, expecting for, or feel that our fans deserve. I’m a big believer that if you start with the right culture, (the right) people, and you have the resources and expectations, we can build a winning football team here again.”
And he’s shown he’s willing to spend the money to do it. In addition to laying all new sod this week, Penner announced a $100 million renovation for Empower Field at Mile High. That’s the largest in the history of the venue. Slated to be completed before the start of the 2023 season, the renovations will feature upgrades to the video boards, premium hospitality areas, technology, concessions, the Broncos Team Store and elevators.
Time will tell if he makes improvements to the actual football team as well. But hey, if you have to watch your team lose, might as well do it in a really fancy stadium.