By Shawn Chitnis

DENVER (CBS4) – Former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb thinks the stadium where the Broncos play should not have a commercial sponsor but simply remain Mile High Stadium while adding Pat Bowlen’s name to the title.

“It is what people think of when they think of Colorado and when they think of Denver,” said Webb. “They think of being at Mile High.”

The Pat Bowlen statue (credit: CBS)

The team currently owns the naming rights to the stadium, and earlier this month they removed the Sports Authority signs. So far there’s been no announcement about what the formal title of the stadium will be moving forward, though. The thought is that a new corporate sponsor’s name will be figured into the stadium’s name.

But during the week leading up to the Super Bowl, Webb proposed his idea to have the public and companies team up to keep a commercial name away from Mile High Stadium. These would be donations, not a mandated tax.

(credit: CBS)

“I didn’t want it to go in the waste basket,” explained Webb on going to the media instead of the team privately and leaving it to the public. “It’s either a good idea or a bad idea.”

Fans along the 16th Street Mall on Tuesday had mixed views about the suggestion. While they love the name, “Mile High Stadium,” they’re not all willing to pay for it. Some say it is worth keeping companies out.

Former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb (credit: CBS)

“I’ve always been a fan of not having a corporate name attached to a stadium, it’s just classier in my opinion,” said Travis Gibson, a Broncos fan.

Webb says the opportunity to let the people buy into the name will also give them the chance to pay tribute to one of the icons of football in Colorado.

(credit: CBS)

“Pat Bowlen has been very special to this community, special to that team,” said Webb. “Let’s put Mile High Stadium at Pat Bowlen Field.”

Fans supportive of the idea mentioned donating anywhere from $1 to $100, hoping millions of fans collectively could raise enough money to realize this idea.

“Giving a little tribute towards him would be really cool,” said Brad Hektor on the suggestion of including Bowlen in the name. “I mean he’s the original Bronco.”

(credit: CBS)

Bowlen has owned the Denver Broncos since 1984. He has Alzheimer’s Disease and no longer actively manages the team. A statue of him stands outside the stadium and his name is in the Ring of Fame.

Webb, who was mayor from to 1991 to 2003, also said he thinks marijuana companies should be allowed to sponsor aspects of the stadium, even though the NFL opposes it. He wonders if seats could be sponsored by members of that industry, keeping them off of television and avoiding any concerns from the league.

Terrell Davis of the Denver Broncos stands with Broncos owner Pat Bowlen, left, and John Elway, right, after winning the AFC Championship Game in 1999 against the New York Jets at Mile High Stadium (credit: Brian Bahr /Allsport)

“The State of Colorado gets a lot of money from the marijuana industry,” he said. “The City of Denver gets a lot of money from the marijuana industry.”

The Broncos responded to CBS4 saying they only learned about this idea after hearing media reports.

“Our focus remains on securing a long-term, corporate naming rights partner,” a statement from the team said. “We continue to have productive conversations with prospective companies.”

The Metropolitan Football Stadium District echoed that response as the team maintain the naming rights. Staff at the district told CBS4 they support the Bronco’s effort to seek a long-term appropriate corporate partner.

“That model isn’t working so well, so let’s try something different,” Webb challenged to the suggestion that another commercial sponsor is needed. “The public doesn’t go out of business.”

Shawn Chitnis reports for CBS4 News at 10 on weekends and CBS4 News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. throughout the week. Email him story ideas at and connect with him on Twitter or Facebook.

  1. I don’t know that Mr Bowlen made that great a contribution to Denver culture. In fact little if any. He bought a team that owned Elway. And without Elway, Bowlen’s teams did little if anything. Nor did he contribute much to pro football’s culture. It is our stadium, not the Bronco’s.

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