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Horse Tracks: Stadium naming rights another missing piece in Broncos puzzle

The best fit for this is a Colorado business that is both successful and is as much an institution here as the Broncos.

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Broncos Country!

We're in the homestretch. So we hope.

No, this time it has nothing to do with Von Miller. This is about the stadium naming rights for the Denver Broncos.

With Sports Authority doing its best Invesco impression and going bankrupt, the naming rights to Mile High Stadium are once again up for auction. One media personality went so far as to proclaim it "embarrassing" and the Broncos "need to get it right." Really? That's a hot take if there ever was one.

Yes, because the organization and Metropolitan Football Stadium District has a Delorean they use to travel into the future, see what happens, go back to the past and fix it before they accept any bid. The flux capacitor must not have been working for these last two naming-rights contracts.

As I said last week, I hate this time of year.

We can only hope the franchise and the stadium district can right this utter embarrassment, and sooner rather than later. How can they do anything with this looming over their heads? Perhaps that's why it's taking so long to extend Miller.

With training camp just about two weeks away and the preseason shortly after, one would think this gets resolved soon. Installing the new name on the stadium and printing it on all publications can't be a quick task. It will take some time. I feel for the graphic designer pegged to design the new logo.

What we do know at this point is that Sports Authority filed for bankruptcy in March, and put the naming rights up for sale as part of a court-supervised auction that the Broncos and stadium district are fighting.

According to Reuters, last week's auction failed to attract any bidders.

"The contract for the naming rights up for grabs extends until 2021, and comes with a $3.6 million payment obligation due Aug. 1," Reuters said in its story last week.

While Reuters adds Sports Authority is current on payments, that doesn't mean much given the current bankrupt state of the company.

It's not far fetched, and perhaps even expected, that Sports Authority defaults on its $3.6 million payment come Aug. 1. The heavy financial trouble the company is in gives credence to that. In total, Sports Authority pays upward of $6 million a year for the naming rights.

We think it's a great opportunity for a company to partner with us. Our brand's connection to this market is incredibly special.Mac Freeman, Broncos senior vice president of business development

Multiple reports show the Broncos have filed their own motion in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, arguing that the team must give written approval before selling the stadium naming rights or its sponsorship of the franchise. In other words, they want to ensure Sports Authority can't and doesn't sell naming rights to make a profit. That still awaits final ruling from the court, and is the biggest hold up at this point.

According to The Denver Post, that hasn't kept the team from having discussions with companies, "to gauge their interest in the naming rights."

"We think it's a great opportunity for a company to partner with us," Mac Freeman, the Broncos' senior vice president of business development, told The Post at the end of June. "Our brand's connection to this market is incredibly special. On top of it, this city is in a really special time."

In terms of who those companies are, all The Post story indicates it's "at least a dozen companies -€” some current partners, some not."

One industry we can rule out is pot shops. The Westword in Denver reported that the Broncos will not consider any bids from the marijuana industry.

Reuters also reported that Dick's Sporting Goods Inc has not expressed interest in the naming rights (at least publicly). Hopefully that remains the case, because I'm one who doesn't want the name associated with the Broncos or the stadium at all.

For those who have wanted the Broncos to just go with Mile High Stadium, that's not an option at this point.

As The Post story said, the naming-rights partner is critical for the future preservation and operation of the stadium. The team and the district have invested $100 million in the stadium during its first 16 years and anticipate spending another $300 million in the next 30 years, The Post story added.

"Most partners that we're talking to understand the fans' connection to Mile High," Freeman told The Post.

The best fit for this is a Colorado business that is both successful and is as much an institution here as the Broncos. One that is both successful, will remain so for the foreseeable future (won't file for bankruptcy) and has gained the trust of Broncos Country.

With so much speculation surrounding the Broncos, namely Miller, Emmanuel Sanders and who the starting quarterback will be, it's only fitting the stadium naming rights represents one more piece to the overall puzzle.

We can only hope we're in the homestretch.

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