What does a new Broncos owner mean for Sun Valley, the neighborhood in the heart of Broncos country?

It’s home party season for the Denver Broncos.

For starters, the Broncos have a new coach. This is the fifth time fans have said this in the past 11 years. And with that comes the prospect of a new quarterback, something else the Broncos have needed since Hall of Famer Peyton Manning left the team in 2015.

What else do the Broncos get this year? A new owner.

In January, a district judge cleared the way for a possible sale of the team, ruling that a right of first refusal between Edgar Kaiser Jr. and Pat Bowlen – the former owners – was “no longer valid”. On Tuesday, the Broncos and the Pat Bowlen Trust announced the team was for sale and the new owner could shell out more than $4 billion, a record price for an American professional sports franchise.

Broncos president and CEO Joe Ellis said directors hope to find a new owner before the 2022 season.

“The Broncos are a special franchise that is part of the fabric of this region and anyone who emerges as a new owner will certainly understand what the team means to our great fans and this community,” Ellis said.

Besides bringing another Super Bowl ring to Mile High, what would a new owner bring to Sun Valley?

Lisa Saenz is a former longtime resident of Sun Valley, the neighborhood where Empower Field resides. She said while most Denver residents are preoccupied with the wins, including her, she hopes a new owner will continue his plans to revitalize the Sun Valley area.

“I don’t think anyone [cares] who owns the team as long as they can keep their Broncos,” Saenz said with a laugh. “Game days here bring the neighborhood to life. This is Broncos Country… But I hope they stay involved in the neighborhood. They came to us about four or five years ago with the idea of ​​redeveloping the 50 yard line down to lower Colfax by Meow Wolf, but then Pat Bowlen died. And then the pandemic.

Old storefronts in Sun Valley, near Mile High Stadium.  (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Saenz talks about the Stadium District Master Plan, which was passed by the city council in 2019. The plan aimed to energize the area year-round by redeveloping Empower Field’s south parking lot into a mixed-use neighborhood center of 70 acres with new housing, dining, entertainment and, of course, green space.

Glenn Harper, owner of Sun Valley Kitchen + Community Center, was part of the Westside Stadium Community Coalition with Saenz, a group formed to represent areas impacted by the Stadium District Plan. Harper said the plan also included an “international market” featuring local chefs and business owners.

“That’s what we’re hoping to see with the stadium redevelopment,” Harper said. “Giving people the opportunity to start their own business here locally.”

The plan was presented to residents of Sun Valley and other nearby neighborhoods by the Broncos and the Metropolitan Football Stadium District, a government body made up of the seven counties in the Denver metropolitan area that own the stadium. The district is responsible for the construction and maintenance of Empower Field.

A rendering of the 2013 Decatur-Federal Station area plan illustrating a possible future Old West Colfax streetscape.  The station area looks nothing like this.  (Courtesy of Denver CPD)
The area covered by the stadium district master plan.  (Courtesy of Denver Community Planning and Development)

Matt Sugar, director of stadium affairs for the Metropolitan District, said plans have been put on hold due to the pandemic. It’s unclear if the plans will continue as it’s unclear if the Broncos’ new owner will be interested in the project.

“We’ve been on hiatus for a while now, and will likely remain on hiatus until the ownership changes,” Sugar said. “I can’t anticipate what the new owner might want to do or not do. There are a lot of unknowns out there.

What is also unknown is whether Sun Valley would actually benefit from this development. Saenz thinks so, as does Harper.

Many public housing units have been removed from Sun Valley as the Denver Housing Authority remodels the neighborhood.  December 3, 2021.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Sun Valley is bordered by Interstate 25, Federal Boulevard, and 6th and 20th Avenues. It once had a population of around 1,500 people, most of whom lived in the houses of Sun Valley, like Saenz. The Homes is a subsidized public housing project operated by the Denver Housing Authority.

As part of a multi-year, $240 million project, DHA will replace 333 public housing units (those old red-brick buildings) and add more than 950 homes to house more than 2,500 residents. But ever since DHA started redeveloping homes, Sun Valley has looked like a ghost town.

“There has been a lot of movement in the community with residents moving out because of redevelopment,” Harper said. “But my prediction is that between the redevelopment of this part of Sun Valley and then the stadium area, we could potentially have 10,000 people living here in 10 years.”

Saenz will not be one of those people. DHA relocated her to a different complex, but she still hopes the Sun Valley neighborhood is thriving and that the Broncos’ new owner can help.

“I hope they will continue with the plan,” Saenz said. “It could bring the area back to life as long as they make it affordable and everyone feels welcome here.”

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