DENVER (CBS4) – Denver is shining as host of the MLB All-Star Game festivities.
It’s an opportunity similar to the one the city has had hosting big events like the Democratic National Convention in 2008 and World Youth Day in 1993. Here’s a look back at some of the biggest events in the Mile High City’s history that brought people from around the country, and in some cases around the world.
1964 – Beatles Play Red Rocks
It was not the first concert at the amphitheater, but the Fab Four was one of the most iconic. The show was the sixth stop on the Beatles tour of North America, the only show the group did not sell out. The Beatles played for a crowd of about 7,000 on Aug. 26 but as many as 10,000 screaming fans greeted them at the airport and followed them to the Brown Palace. Because of the altitude, oxygen canisters were placed on the stage. The concert was the earliest notable rock ’n’ roll performance at the venue.
1969 – First National Chicano Youth Liberation Conference
Chicano activist leader Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales organized the youth conference in March 1969. About 1,500 Mexican American youths traveled to Denver for the Crusade For Justice which followed a series of walkouts and demonstrations at Denver schools. This was first time a generation met to discuss issues such as oppression, discrimination and injustice. The conference ended by calling for all Mexican Americans to unite under the banner of the term “Chicano.” The participants also looked to the Aztecs who settled in the Valley of Mexico, leading them to embrace the concept of Aztlán as their spiritual homeland. Following the conference, “Chicano” and “Aztlán” spread through the Southwest.
1990 – Grand Prix Downtown
Imagine the streets of downtown Denver as a racetrack filled with Indy race cars. That’s exactly what happened in 1990 and 1991 when the city hosted the Grand Prix. The race took drivers whizzing past the Colorado State Capitol and through 90 degree turns. Al Unser Jr. won both races, the one in 1990 was the slowest in championship auto racing team history at the time. The aftermath of the race though left a bitter taste, with Civic Center Park a mess, taxpayers had a half a $1 million bill and the race lost $8 million. Other attempts to return racing to Denver also failed.
1993 – World Youth Day
The Catholic world came to Denver and the surroundings areas for World Youth Day in August 1993. It’s estimated between half a million and 1 million young people from around the world descended on Colorado to see Pope John Paul II. The pontiff celebrated mass at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception as well as the old Mile High Stadium and then to an estimated 750,000 at Cherry Creek State Park. For some, that Sunday in the park in Colorado’s sun and altitude proved too much, requiring them to seek and receive medical help on site. Pope John Paul II also visited St. Malo’s retreat near Estes Park for a chance to recharge. For the city considered too secular by some, Denver welcomed the pontiff and the attendees, even turning parking garages into dorms by putting in beds to make sure all the pilgrims had a place to sleep. President Bill Clinton visited Denver to meet with the pontiff during the week.
1997 – Summit of the 8
In June, 1997 the international world again returned to Denver, this time world leaders gathered for the 23rd G8 Summit, known as the Summit of the 8. President Bill Clinton represented the United States, hosting Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, French President Jacques Chirac, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, Japanese Prime Minister Ruytaro Hashimoto, Russian President Boris Yeltsin, British Prime Minister Tony Blair along with Jacques Santer and Wim Kok of the European Union. The summit left the legacy of the redesign of the Denver Public Library’s main branch by architect Michael Graves. The building was first used as the summit site. The most memorable public image of the summit may be the world leaders posing for a picture outside The Fort restaurant in Morrison, several in cowboy boots and hats.
1998 – First MLB All Star Game
Denver knows a thing or two about hosting an all-star game. The MLB picked Denver as the host in July 1998, welcoming the Midsummer Classic to Coors Field. The Colorado Convention Center hosted fans, welcoming thousands downtown. The Colorado Rockies raffled off 1,000 tickets for the game and 2,000 for the Home Run Derby but you had to enter by sending in a postcard. The American League defeated the National League, 13-8. It was the first All-Star game played in the Mountain Time Zone.
2005 – NBA All Star Game
The sports world again turned all eyes on Denver for the NBA All-Star game on February 20, 2005. It was another five days of festivities to bring families into downtown in the days around the game. Big names like P. Diddy, Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, Magic Johnson and Denver native Chauncey Billups threw parties all over town. At the end of the parties, the Eastern Conference beat the Western Conference, 125-115.
2008 – Democratic National Convention
The Democratic National Party made history in August 2008, nominating Barack Obama as the first Black presidential candidate for a major political party. Those historic moments unfolded first in Pepsi Center where Hillary Rodham Clinton cast the final votes to push him over the number needed for the nomination. For the first time, the party made the decision to move the final evening into a larger venue, leaving crews scrambling overnight on Aug. 27 into 28 to set up Mile High — the stadium where the Broncos play football and which has had many corporate names attached — for Obama’s acceptance speech. Celebrities from all walks of life made the trip to Denver to be in the stands for the historic evening. Outside of Pepsi Center, a series of workshops were held as concerts and parties took over much of the city.