Denver Mayor Michael Hancock tells CBS News Colorado he's been advocating to ensure the idea of moving the stadium for the Denver Broncos down the line isn't in the cards.
It's been about three months since Walmart heirs, and some shareholders, bought the Broncos for $4.65 billion -- the most expensive NFL team purchase yet. The future of Empower Field at Mile High has been said to be the "number one decision" the football team's new owners will have to make.
"The ownership team, their eyes are wide open right now in terms of their responsibilities and their hopes for the team," Hancock said. "As we've talked, I've made it very clear that my hope is that, one, we will keep open lines of communication with regards to the stadium, and the future stadium, and hopefully, that it remain in Denver, Colorado."
The city had approved a plan in 2019 to totally reimagine the southern half of the stadium's parking lot. It would have made the area more walkable and would have built mixed-use buildings nearby for shops and affordable housing.
The Metro Football Stadium District Board said in its meeting last month those plans are still on hold, but haven't totally gone away.
"With the new ownership of the Broncos, there's a lot to be defined, so I think we're kind of in a holding position," said Matt Sugar, MFSD director of stadium affairs, during the meeting. "We don't anticipate doing anything in the near future, but potentially keeping a placeholder for development issues down the road."
Hancock echoed those comments.
"I think there's this opportunity to repurpose, reimagine blacktops around the stadium in partnership with public transportation systems," Hancock said.
He believes the plans for the new River Mile near Ball Arena could be a motivator to keep the stadium where it is, especially given the development would be led by some extended family of the new Broncos owners.
"I think that presents a tremendous opportunity for the stadium," Hancock said. "So, I think that bodes well for Denver."
In the meantime, others say there's been talk of moving the stadium closer to Denver's airport -- in northeastern Aurora, which is now a developing area with the construction of the new Aurora Highlands neighborhood.
Asked if that's seriously on the table, Hancock said, "I don't want to address rumors... I happen to think it's not a very good destination, because you have very limited access. So, it doesn't make a lot of sense."
He says his vision for the stadium includes not only reimagining the land around the facility, but also adding a retractable roof.
"I know that other firms, interested parties, have the retractable roof plans. I've seen them. So, it's not like there are no plans out there," Hancock said. "It's when the ownership is ready... I believe they'll be candid, transparent with the public, because the fans care."
When the stadium first opened in 2001, 75% of its $400 million cost was covered by a multi-county sales tax. Since then, money has gone back to those communities that contributed.
Asked if he foresees the new owners asking taxpayers for money to pay for renovations, or a new stadium, Hancock said, "it might be a difficult proposition, quite frankly, in terms of what is happening today with our professional teams... I think it would be a very difficult ask."
He added that while the current stadium is almost 22 years old, "still, it's a great stadium to go to. It's not like the old Mile High, when people were like, 'yeah, maybe it's time to replace this whole building.' I'm not sure that's the case."
Regardless of what happens, Hancock says it won't be overnight.
"They have a nine-year term remaining on the lease for the stadium today. They're going to make some improvements on the stadium in terms of electronics and video for the next nine years," Hancock said. "It's a statewide gem for all of us. We'd love to see that gem stay in Denver. I said that to the ownership, and I let them know that whether I'm in this office or not, I'm available to talk about it."
Before any of these major changes can take place, of course, Hancock says he thinks the owners are focused on winning some games.
CBS News Colorado reached out to the Broncos for comment on this story but has not received a response.
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