Denver, CO. We are just six weeks away from the start of the 2012 NFL regular season, and just 43 days from the official start of the Peyton Manning era as a Denver Bronco. On September 9th, the Steelers will be in town to face the Broncos in a rematch of the crazy wildcard game back in January. Pittsburgh will be looking for a little slice of revenge, even though that game featured a much different QB for the Broncos, a QB who will be causing some chaos out in New York now. Now that training camp has begun, many Denver fans are already getting amped up for that home opener on the second Sunday of September. It will be a night game, under the lights, in front of a national television audience on NBC. The crowd will undoubtedly be rockin, as the home fans will give Denver a decided edge like they always have. The home field advantage in the Mile High City over the years has been something that few other teams can truly match. But upon further analysis, this edge at home that most Broncos fans perceive, may be just that…..perception alone.
For anyone who went to games back at old Mile High Stadium, it was a much different experience than what it is now at Sports Authority Field. The final season at old Mile High was in 2000, as the team moved into their new facility beginning in 2001. For the team to continue to be profitable and stay in Denver, a new stadium was in order, and was built right next door to the old one along I-25. The new one, which started as Invesco Field at Mile High, has some obvious upgrades. Wider concourses, more restrooms, higher quality scoreboards, and is just more attractive overall most would say. But for the long time, die-hard Broncos fans, the old Mile High still brings back fond memories of what made opposing teams fear having to play here. The old digs was mostly metal, so stomping on the ground caused some serious noise throughout that place. The south stands….what a crazy atmosphere that was, as eight Sunday’s a year it seemed as if the local convicts were transferred there for about 3 hours or so. Add in the obvious altitude factor, and the Broncos had themselves quite a home field advantage.
From 1974-2006, the Denver Broncos had the best home field advantage in the NFL, with a 191-65-1 record. But in the last five years, they are just 20-20 at home. To me, a few things factor into the advantage slipping away in recent years. First, the stadium is nowhere near as loud as the old one. The new one is made with concrete basically, so stomping on that won’t do a whole lot. The fans at the games also seem to be a bit more….corporate. Prices have gone up over the years, which has not allowed a lot of the truly devoted Broncos supporters to attend anymore. The product on the field the past five years has really been mediocre at best, so there are less times that fans have a reason to get rowdy and cause problems for the opponents. Although the team made the playoffs last year in miraculous fashion, did you know the last time Denver won 10 or more games was in 2005? That is frightening for any Broncos fan to hear, and is something that probably surprises most.
The days of the home field dominance have been slipping for some time now. The numbers say so, and anyone who has been to a game the past few years would have to agree. Penciling in a win at home prior to the game is simply foolish nowadays, as some games have been blowouts, and not in Denver’s favor. So how do the Broncos get it back? The first step is a better product on the field, one that gets the fans juiced up and excited to want to make some noise. Getting a lead would be nice too, something we haven’t had much of in recent memory. Bringing in that guy Peyton should help this in a lot of ways. If all goes well in 2012, it could be the rebirth of some much needed “Mile High Magic”.
Denver Sports by J Simp