DENVER — The Broncos announced an upgrade to Empower Field at Mile High on Dec. 14 that will feature more than $100 million in improvements to the stadium, and Broncos President Damani Leech shared new information about the project ahead of the Broncos' game against the Cardinals on Sunday.
"[This] is a pretty significant and momentous occasion here in Broncos history," Leech said. "As you know, the Walton-Penner Family Ownership Group made a significant and really massive commitment to upgrading the stadium for our fans here. All our members of Broncos Country, when you think about the game-day experience, really everybody [is] having an opportunity to getting their fan and game-day experience enhanced."
Leech noted that the brand-new video board will be 31 feet higher, increasing its size by 70 percent. This will make it the fourth-largest video board in the NFL.
Additionally, Leech said that the suites will be refurbished for the first time since Empower Field at Mile High was built, concessions on several levels will be added or upgraded and an additional 3,000 square feet will be added to the team store, expanding it by 25 to 30 percent, among other renovations.
"We're really excited about it," Leech said. "It was the culmination of a lot of work. As soon as I started, we hit the ground running. The ownership group — [Owner/CEO] Greg [Penner] particularly — tasked us with, 'What can we do immediately to enhance the experience for our fans here at the stadium?'"
Leech said they started with a list of more than 30 ideas and worked their way down to the group of six or seven enhancements to improve the fan experience as soon as next year.
"We created a framework," Leech said. "We took these 30-plus different concepts and effectively graded them all in terms of, 'How do they impact the fan experience?'; operational enhancements, making people move around the stadium easily — that's how we talked about elevators and how we arrived at one of those; feasibility, we wanted to get this done over the course of a very short summer and offseason. So, using those [metrics we] really scored and graded everything, and then what rose to the top is what we went with."
These enhancements will not be reflective of the team's future decisions relating to the stadium, Leech noted, but are intended to make an immediate impact on the fan experience.
"This is about what we can do right away — right away is next season — but what we can do right away to enhance the experience for the fans," Leech said.
Leech confirmed that the project will be completed by the start of the 2023-24 season, and summer events hosted at Empower Field at Mile High will not be impacted by construction.
"We actually have what I think is maybe one of our most significant slates of summer activites, of concerts: Supercross and ILLENIUM festival, but also obviously two Taylor Swift shows, which will be really, really popular, Ed Sheeran, George Strait — so this will be, I think, one of our most significant summers," Leech said.
General Manager of Empower Field at Mile High Jay Roberts noted that these improvements were necessary to make quickly in order to provide an enhanced experience for fans.
"We like Empower Field at Mile High," Roberts said. "We think it's a great stadium, our fans enjoy it, but it's always good to invest, to improve, to get better. We're constantly focused on, 'How do we improve the fan journey, the fan experience?' And so we're excited that this is going to do that on all sorts of different levels, whether it's visiting the team store, or watching one of the biggest single replays in the NFL at one point in the game is going to be magical. The food and beverage concessions can always be faster, we can always be better. It's really hard to take care of 77,000 people at halftime, but anything we can do to improve that speed of service, get people back to their seats quickly so they miss less of the game, is a big win. And so, all of the things that we did are going to help that fan journey and that fan experience."
In the process of making these enhancements, Leech noted that fan feedback was incorporated in their decisions regarding which areas to upgrade.
"We do surveys of the fans who come to the games after every single game," Leech said. "We get about 2,000 fan surveys returned after every game, and that's driveway to driveway, 'What's your experience?' And so, we have a general sense of what fans like, what the pain points are and where we can make opportunities for improvement."