WSOTP stadium guide: colorado’s dick’s sporting goods park

Welcome to the WSOTP Stadium Guide, the latest major undertaking on here on Wrong Side of the Pond. With traveling supporters steadily becoming a fixture at MLS matches, there aren’t a lot of great resources for visiting fans to research ahead of their travels. Over the next few seasons, I aim to visit and provide an up close and personal look at each of the 20 (soon to be 22) MLS stadiums to help fill that voidI’ll also take opinion from the locals, as the Supporters who call each stadium home know it far better than I ever will. To see the full list of stadium reviews, click here.

DSG PARK QUICK GUIDE
Address 6000 Victory Way
Commerce City, CO
Home Club Colorado Rapids
Soccer Capacity 19,680
Opened April 7, 2007
Soccer Specific Stadium Yes
GETTING TO THE STADIUM
From Out of Town?
Driving In
Public Transport
MATCH DAY EXPERIENCE
Parking / Tailgating
Prematch Pubs
Tickets / Where to Sit
Supporters Sections
Suites & Special Seating
Food & Beer
Fan Activities
BEHIND THE SCENES
Player Facilities
The Field of Play / WSOTP Pitch Pass
Meeting the Players
Hidden Gem

After having only visited one stadium in 2014 — and not posting that guide yet due to some “delays” in getting necessary materials — 2015 hasn’t exactly gotten off to a better start.

But I’ll make do considering stop number six on the WSOTP Stadium Guide Tour was for the 2015 All Star Game!

My wife, daughter and I were lucky enough to score some tickets to the July 29th match in the Colorado Rapids’ now eight year old Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. The experience, as to be expected, was amazing, helped in no small part by the opposing team for this year’s game being my favorite European club, Tottenham Hotspur FC. I’ll try not to dwell on that too much, as I know the league’s marquee summer event isn’t exactly the average fan experience at DSG Park.

If you’ve never been to Denver, that’s reason alone to make a trip to catch a game at the Rapids’ home stadium. Perhaps best known as a wintertime destination due to the city’s proximity to the Rocky Mountain resorts, there’s even more to do in the summer time in Denver. Innumerable breweries, excellent outdoor offerings, fantastic museums and scenery that few other MLS cities can match are just a few of the things on offer. I hadn’t been to Denver in a decade, and it’s truly incredible to see how much the city has grown in size and culture.

As always, before we get started I wanted to give a special thanks to my excellent hosts — the Rapids’ Director of Public Relations and Communications, Diego Garcia, and Centennial 38’s David Wenger —  for showing me around and getting me acquainted with yet another spectacular American soccer stadium and city.

GETTING TO THE STADIUM

From Out of Town?
Being the capital of Colorado and the state’s largest city, Denver is easily one of the most accessible cities in the American West. But much like the majority of the stadiums I’ve visited thus far, the Rapids’ home digs aren’t located in the city proper. Instead, Dick’s Sporting Goods Park lays a decent clip away from downtown in Commerce City, about 10 miles from the city center on an industrial space carved out of the Southwest corner of the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge. Luckily, there are a number of ways to navigate to matches at DSG Park.

For most of us in the country, driving to Colorado requires days of travel. And as such, most of us will likely fly into Denver instead. But unless you own a private plane or know somebody else that does, odds are if you’re flying in you’ll be doing so into Denver International Airport (DEN or DIA). Being the home hub to budget carrier Frontier and a major focus for Southwest, finding cheap flights into the city usually isn’t too tricky — outside of the winter months where the nearby Rocky Mountain’s renown terrain jacks up prices during ski season. And honestly, the stadium itself is actually pretty close to the airport, roughly only a 25 minute drive away.

If flying isn’t your thing, you can also make your way to the Mile-High City by train and bus. Buyer beware: it will take you a lot longer than flying.

While hotel options in Denver are obviously not in short supply, there are only two major concentrations of places to stay in the city: downtown or off of the Peña Boulevard exit of I-70 which takes you to the airport. The former will give you far better options for dining and nightlife — and thus my recommendation — though the latter will put you far closer to stadium.

Driving to the Stadium
Like most major cities, Denver has some serious issues with traffic congestion. However, Denver’s issues are compounded by the city’s rapid population growth over the last five to ten years, as none of the roadways were built to handle Denver’s ballooning commuting volume. As such, loads of the highways are currently under construction as of when I visited in July 2015. And unfortunately, both are an issue near DSG Park. Traffic can be quite heavy as it sits close to the junction of Interstate-70 and I-270, meaning rush hour kickoffs could easily test your patience.

A quick note though on the three main entrances to DSG Park — two of which are on Quebec Street (at East 60th and Prairie Parkway) on the West side of the stadium, and one on the Southern side at 56th Avenue and Valentia Street. If you’re coming from I-70/South, turning right onto 56th to get to the Valentia entrance will put you at the mercy of a long red light while waiting to turn left. For that reason, I advise heading to one of the two Quebec Street entrances instead.

If I were you? I’d still highly recommend Googling your own directions to best evaluate your traffic options. Or in dire emergencies, you can follow the directions available on the DSG Park website.

Public Transportation Options
Denver does have public transportation in the form of buses and light rail, though only one currently can deliver you to DSG Park as of the time of writing in 2015.

Currently the RTD FasTracks commuter rail system is undergoing a massive expansion, and there will be a stop and park and ride in Commerce City 70th Avenue on the North Line. Problem is, that line isn’t currently scheduled to open up until 2018 and the stop will still likely be several miles away from the stadium. According to my contact with the Centennial 38 supporters group, there are plans to run shuttles from that stop to DSG Park on game days. But for the time being at least, that’s a big fat “no” on the rail front.

However, you can take Denver’s RTD Bus service to the game. Their #88 bus will drop you at 56th and Quebec, just South of the two Western entrances and leaving you with roughly a mile walk to the stadium.

The Rapids also have joined the trend of partnering with local bars for special transport to and from home matches from various points around the city, though the it’s the supporters groups championing those efforts instead of the club. Centennial 38 runs coach buses from five bars around Denver, where $10 nets you a round-trip ticket and a selection of craft beers. Those bars and their departure schedules — which are subject to change — are listed below:

  • The British Bulldog – 2052 Stout Street
    • ~3 hours before kickoff
    • ~1 before before kickoff
  • Three Lions – 2239 East Colifax
    • ~2 hours and 50 minutes before kickoff
    • ~45 minutes before kickoff
  • Southside Bar Kitchen – 3014 East Colifax
    • ~2 hours and 40 minutes before kickoff
  • The Armoury – 2048 Larimer Street
    • ~ 2 hours before kickoff
  • The Celtic Tavern – 1801 Blake Street
    • ~1 hour and 50 minutes before kickoff

And in a newer trend I’ve seen around MLS, Dick’s Sporting Goods Park also features a station for Car2Go. I noticed that the short term car rental company has stations conveniently all over Denver, and their parking spots at DSG Park are located in Lot B.

Interestingly, several mentioned that about 12 miles of bike trails separate downtown from DSG Park as well — that’s so freaking Denver — and that a decent contingent use that mode of transportation to get to games regularly

MATCH DAY EXPERIENCE

Parking and Tailgating
Unless it’s a special event — as it was for us when we visited during the All Star Game — parking is a snap at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. And again barring a special event, most of the parking is already included in the cost of your ticket — which is a bit of a bummer if you took public transport. For the All Star Game, and I would assume all special events, a $15 parking fee was required. A parking map can be found here.

The lots themselves are mostly paved, though overflow parking is in an undeveloped set of lots just to the West of the stadium. VIP parking, reserved for those with suites and reserved seating, is located along the Southern entrance on Valentia street. Bus and RV parking is also available,

All lots allow tailgating, but the supporters Centennial 38 throw a rather large one before every game in the parking lots South of the stadium. David Wenger of C38 extended the offer to any and all visitors, saying: “We run a massive pre-match tailgate. Anywhere from 600-1000 come up to three hours before kickoff. We welcome everyone coming to the game to take part. It’s all volunteer and donation supported. We grill up hot dogs, fresh-baked pizzas and specialty items too. [We also offer] some great, local beverages and sodas too.”

Pregame Pubs
The aforementioned bars that run buses to and from DSG Park on matchdays — The Armoury, The British Bulldog, Celtic Tavern, Three Lions and Southside Bar Kitchen — are probably your best bets if you’re trying to make it out to the stadium. But Denver still has a few soccer bars in town that are worth checking out if you have time. Of note are the Three Lions and The British Bulldog, but there are several others in town, too. As evident in the WSOTP Soccer Pub Atlas zoom in below, most are concentrated in the center of the city.

Tickets / Where to Sit
Single game tickets purchased through the club’s website run anywhere from $15 for North goal line tickets on the Terrace, up to $80 for six rather coll patio seat sections that ring the stadium bowl.  Depending on where you want to sit, season ticket rates will run you anywhere from $289 to $1156 for adults and $289 and $459 for kids. See the stadium seating chart. Box offices can be found on both the West and East side of the stadiums, though Will Call is primarily located on the West.

You can snare tickets below face value on sites like StubHub and the club-endorsed Flash Seats, so you might want to give those a try too if you’re balling on a budget.

There’s also one other really cool way to snag cheap seats, and that’s via the Corner 7-Eleven program. The partnership offers discounted $15 tickets in the stadium’s Southeast corner sections of 112 and 113 at all 330+ Colorado 7-Eleven locations. The catch? Only 880 tickets in the 7-Eleven Corner are available for every game, and they go on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Supporters’ Groups Seating
Once upon a time, there were three supporters groups for the Colorado Rapids — the Bulldog Supporters, Class VI and Pid Army — but they combined back 2013 to form the united Centennial 38 supporters group. But it’s this formerly fractured history that helps to explain why you can find two sections of home supporters seating: the standing-only terrace behind the North goal line, and in Section 108 on the southern portion of the East stand. The Terrace is the louder of the two, and is where you’ll primarily see tifos rolled out. You can purchase tickets directly through the SG website, as well as tickets for the aforementioned bus-in program, too.

Traveling supporters are seated in Section 100, which is the very last sliver of a section on the northern portion of the East stand. It’s an interesting spot, as it directly overlooks the C38-owned Terrace — which might make for some decent exchanges of banter. Also, the club conveniently provides a visitor tailgating area in Lot BB on the East side of the stadium.  They also encourage you to enter through Gate A on the same side of the stadium. Or, you can reference the Rapids’ full rules for visiting supporters.

Suites & Special Seating
Like any modern stadium, Dick’s Sporting Goods Park offers a healthy helping of premium seating options. In all, there are 20 “loge-style” luxury suites, all of which are situated on the Western stand. All Suites also afford access to the Summit Club. Most are corporately-leased on a yearly basis, though some are available on a per game basis. Each suite offers a plethora of comforts such as full-service catering, concierge services and internet access, in addition to indoor and outdoor seating options, four VIP parking passes and additional benefits at the downtown Pepsi Center, home of the NBA’s Nuggets and NHL’s Avalanche.

For information on leasing or renting a suite, you can have your people contact Colorado Rapids Premium Sales and Service Manager at 303-727-3511.

Less expensive premium offerings such as 4-seat minimum patio seats are available on a match-by-match basis as well.

Food & Beer
The food situation at DSG Park wasn’t overly impressive. The nine permanent concession stands and numerous roving stations offer the American sporting event staples — hot dogs, popcorn, pizza, nachos, etc. — but not a whole lot else. As noted by the Centennial 38 supporters, ” It’d be nice to see some of the great Colorado food chains represented, like Chipotle or something like that.” Sadly, there isn’t. The permanent stands all took credit cards, but it’s probably best to carry cash if you want to buy from the movable stands.

On the beer front, the stadium is heavily sponsored by Anheuser-Busch, including the actually really cool Budweiser-themed Eighteen76 bar on the Southern plaza of the stadium — more on that front later. Anyway, your AB options are a plenty, as is league-sponsor Heineken. But on the local front, local Odell Brewing has at least two beers on tap, including the excellent Schilling.

As for food and beverage options close to the stadium, you’re not going to find much more than chains within a short distance. If you’re looking for good eats, it’s best to stay closer to downtown where you can practically trip and land in either a local restaurant or microbrewery. In all seriousness, there are more great breweries in Denver than one can possibly count. I stopped at no less than four while in town, and wasn’t disappointed in any.

Game Day Fan Activities
Tailgates are your primary source of pre-match activties at the stadium, and you can find out more about that in the Tailgate section above. The day of the MLS All Star Game, they also had an activity zone set up on the Southern side of the stadium — but that doesn’t appear to be a normal occurrence before most Rapids’ games.

BEHIND THE SCENES

Player Facilities
Much like in Dallas, by building Dick’s Sporting Goods Park outside of the city, that gave the Rapids plenty of room to build everything they needed in one location: a stadium, on-site offices and extensive training facilities. The Rapids Academy also calls DSGP their home, and they even have their own offices located on the North side of the stadium on the plaza level under the scoreboard.

In addition to a pristine grass training pitch for the first team to the East of the stadium parking lots, there are also 24 additional full size pitches — 22 turf and 2 grass — available for public rental, tournaments and recreational activities. Altogether, Dick’s Sporting Goods Park claims their 140 acres of parking, facilities and fields “the world’s largest and most state of the art professional stadium and fields complex”.

Also much like Dallas’ Toyota Stadium, the Rapids’ digs feature ample locker room facilities. And while the home locker room wasn’t the most luxurious of change rooms I’ve seen so far in MLS, their boot room was by far the largest and most featured. Next down the hallway is a lounge/office where only players and coaching staff are permitted, as well a training and fitness room that overlooks the field of play.

The Field of Play
Speaking of the field of play, after not being allowed down pitch side in DC, Colorado have quickly gotten us back on board with the WSOTP Pitch Pass. And they gave me that access despite the field having been subjected to quite the beating over the previous few days — what with two open training sessions, the MLS Chipotle Homegrown Game and the MLS All Star Game — not to mention searing 100-degree heat that week. And with the Galaxy visiting that approaching weekend, the DSGP Grounds Crew certainly had their work cut out for them.

Click to see a field-level, 360-degree view from the players' perspective.
Click to see a field-level, 360-degree view from the players’ perspective.

The stadium pitch measures 120 x 80 yards, making it one of the larger in MLS. It also features an integrated in-pitch heating system to help stave off some of the snow that Colorado is known to get — though if you might recall, it didn’t work all that well back for a particular national team match back in 2013.

Meeting the Players
There are actually two places you’ll have a chance to meet the Rapids’ players post match: one is in the Season Pass access only Summit Club up in the Stadium’s suite level, where the man of the match will greet some of the ritzier guests on hand. But then the general populace can get at the same player, and often more, post match at the Eighteen76 bar. Speaking of which…

Hidden Gem
Not that it’s hidden — in fact it sits smack dab in between Gates E and D on the South side of the stadium — but the Eighteen76 is a Budweiser-branded bar and restaurant located both inside and outside the stadium. It features a menu with a wide variety of dining options, and a full service bar to allow you to grab a drink or bite to eat up to two hours before and after the match.

——————————————

Thanks for reading my review of the Colorado Rapids’ Dick’s Sporting Goods Park! Have a suggestion or see an inaccuracy? Be sure to reach out to me at contact@wrongsideofthepond.con.

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