Yet, despite having under three million people in the metro area, Denver still supports their teams enough to fill the seats on a regular basis, regardless of the sport.
Denver fans are so good that they hold many attendance records. The Avalanche sold out all of their home games for the better part of the first 12 years that they were in the city. The Nuggets draw well and always put a decent number of fans in the seats, even when they were one of the worst teams in the sport in the late 90's and early 2000's. Of course the Broncos sell out every single game, and have since the 70's. Tickets for Broncos games are long gone months before the event takes place. The waiting list for season tickets is years long.
While the other three major sports have always drawn well, the attendance records that the Rockies own will never be broken. For the first five seasons Coors Field was a scalpers dream come true. Wednesday afternoon games in September had Coors Field filled to the brim. In fact, Rockies fans were so dedicated to their team that construction of Coors Field was altered to add a third deck in right field to hold all the fans that were lining up to buy tickets.
However, despite all of the attendance records that Denver holds, the rest of the country does not view the city as more than just a football town with a few other teams that people watch when the Broncos aren't playing.
There is a reason for that.
Take a look around the next time you are at Coors Field. How many people are actually paying attention to the game? Inevitably, there is someone standing up with their cell phone pressed to their ear trying to get the attention of a friend on the other side of the stadium. There is always a few guys who are trying to impress their buddies with how many $6 beers they can drink in seven innings, and there is the guy trying to get fans to do the wave, usually in the most crucial moments of the game.
The only time Rockies fans cheer is when they get to do the catchy "Tulo" chant, and when the scoreboard operator prompts them to make noise. However, the noise always ends when the graphic goes away, quieting the stadium at the exact moment the scoreboard was trying to prompt the fans to be loud for.
Watch a game on TV at Yankee Stadium, at Fenway Park, at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, or Wrigley Field. While there are plenty of people at those games not paying attention as well, they do not need to be prompted to make noise. When their team has a two run lead and their pitcher is trying to get out of a bases loaded one out jam, those fans know that it is time to encourage their team forward. Those fans know to cheer when a hitter moves a runner over with less than two outs, not just when a slugger launches a ball out of the yard.
The other problem in Denver is the lack of loyalty. For years Rockies fans said that they would support the team, if only the owners would show some commitment to winning. Well, despite vastly under performing so far in 2010, the Rockies are just four games out of the lead in the National League West. If they somehow are able to make a run and get to the playoffs, it would be the third time in four years that they will be playing in October, a feat only four other teams in all of baseball can claim.
Despite the fact that the Rockies have put a contender on the field, many fans wait for their real favorite team to head into Coors Field so that they can cheer them on. If you were able to get tickets to the Red Sox series, take a look at the Boston fans sitting near you. Make a mental note of them. Those are the same fans that in two weeks will once again be wearing their purple and black gear to the game and pretending that they love the Rockies.
Imagine if that happened at Broncos games. What if the Patriots came to town and half of the stadium was wearing Tom Brady jerseys at rooting hard for New England, then the next week they were back in their orange and blue rooting on the Broncos. They would hear about it not only from the fans who sit near them, but also their friends and family. That is not the case for Rockies fans however. It is quite alright to live in Denver, be a Rockies fan most of the time, but secretly root for another team in a different part of the country.
In 2007, when the Rockies steam rolled their way into the World Series, the city of Denver faced one of its' biggest embarrassments. Not only were Rockies fans outnumbered by Red Sox fans at Coors Field, it looked like a Red Sox home game. It looked like there were a grand total of 100 Rockies fans that existed. When the Red Sox clinched on the Rockies turf, Boston fans (who most likely were wearing Rockies jerseys during the NLDS and NLCS) gathered around the visitors dugout and cheered. The cheering was loud and long.
So here is my challenge to Rockies fans this week as the Red Sox pay a visit to Coors Field: Wear your Rockies gear. Buy something if you have to. Pay attention to the game. When the situation is tense, cheer for the Rockies. Be loud. Drown out the Boston fans. When they start chanting "lets go Red Sox" quickly turn it into "lets go Rockies." Cheer for only one Red Sox player, Darnell McDonald. Cheer for him because he went to Cherry Creek High School and put in 11 years in the minor leagues to get his chance. Cheer for him when he comes to the plate, but then cheer for the Rockies pitcher on the mound to get him out.
It is time for Rockies fans to establish their own traditions. The Rockies are a team that is a contender. They need fans that support them and cheer them on, even when a team that has been around longer and has had more success comes to play them. If Rockies fans start to rally around their team now, it will set a precedent for years to come. The Rockies could be like the Broncos, a team that everyone in the city is a fan of.
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