Say hello to the new Broncos Field House.
It's hard to believe that the Denver Broncos have been without an indoor practice area of their own since 2003, and luckily it's not true anymore. No more busing players to a field better suited to soccer than football when weather gets in the way. The Broncos now not only have a great place for their own players to practice during inclement weather, but a draw for visiting teams and free agents as well.
Oh, and Broncos fans. After missing training camp in 2013, this is the practice facility Denver Broncos fans have been waiting for.
The new three-story Broncos Field House includes a regulation practice field, lockers rooms, showers, hot and cold tubs, indoor and outdoor VIP areas, a media studio, interview rooms, and a team store. Team President and CEO Joe Ellis introduced the indoor facility to the media (and me!) on Tuesday. He made a point of saying that Pat Bowlen wanted to make sure the Broncos got this project right from the beginning and didn't leave anything out. It sure looks like Bowlen got his wish.
Ellis: The field is 100 yards plus end zones. We've got goal posts in here and plenty of width on the sideline. A receiver can complete his route at full speed and not worry about running into walls. We did it the right way.
The practice field can accommodate every Broncos player except for one: Sorry Britton Colquitt, you'll still have to punt outside so you don't break the fancy LED lighting system or speakers.
While Ellis said on multiple occasions that the Broncos were taking a "football first" approach to the use of the practice field, it's clear that the organization has big plans for the Broncos Field House. The Field House has meeting rooms and a full locker room for visiting teams. The Broncos want more teams to practice at Dove Valley in the future and with their own hot and cold tubs and rooms for medical exams visiting teams won't be lacking for much.
Vice President of Operations Chip Conway who oversaw the construction of the new facility remarked that they learned a lot about what they wanted and what they wanted to avoid while visiting other teams' facilities. While the Jets locker room that the Broncos used during the Super Bowl had so many burnt out bulbs Conway asked a staff member at one point to count them (it was about 20 - they were told at least 30 had to be out for it to be worth the effort to replace them), the Broncos Field House has all LED lighting that should last 15 years.
The new facility will surely be an additional draw for free agents (as if Manning and Elway aren't enough) and Ellis hopes the practice facility will host an NFL Regional Combine in the near future as well. There are no current plans for tours for fans but as soon as the team store opens (target date is Nov 17) the public can take a peek at the indoor facility through the windows in the store lobby.
What about training camp?
Broncos fans had to settle for three open practices at Sports Authority Field this summer as training camp was closed to fans due to the construction of the new facility. Next summer fans attending training camp will be rewarded with several upgrades:
- The berm where fans sit to view practice has increased by three times and can hold 5,000 fans (there's also no more trees for shade so bring your sunscreen!
- Visibility for fans will be increased (there is talk about possibly changing the direction of the fields so the team can still use both outdoor fields as they did this summer, but fans will always have a good view of the action).
- There is more parking and it will be more accessible.
- No more port-a-potties - there will be indoor restroom facilities for fans to use.
- ADA seating has also been improved.
You can view video of Joe Ellis' comments from the team's official site.
In the end the only thing surprising about the new Broncos Field House is that is took them so long to build it.
Are you going to be at training camp next summer?