DENVER (AP) — The Denver Broncos will light up the scoreboard at Empower Field at Mile High like never before this season — even if the Sean Payton/Russell Wilson pairing doesn't produce a torrent of points.
The scoreboard is 225 feet wide and 72 feet high, making it the tallest in North America and 70% larger than the old scoreboard. Overall, it's the fifth-largest scoreboard in the NFL.
It's the crown jewel of a $100 million offseason upgrade to the 23-year-old stadium, although it doesn't necessarily guarantee the team won't bolt for the suburbs whenever a new stadium is needed.
Asked how much of the $100 million went to the scoreboard itself, team President Damini Leech said, “a decent chunk.”
Leech said the team conducted wind tests for safety purposes on the new scoreboard in the south stands where the old one used to stand. The Broncos will have spend their first few games figuring out how much, if at all, the bigger board affects field goal attempts.
Other upgrades include cashless concessions, three-dimensional corner videoboards on the concourses and 130 refurbished luxury suites.
Also, team co-owner Carrie Walton-Penner had four local artists commissioned to paint massive murals throughout the stadium, including one by the pro shop that depicts all the Broncos in the Pro Football Hall of Fame with room to add Randy Gradishar if the leader of the “Orange Crush” defense of the 1970s is elected in January. Gradishar is one of the senior nominees and needs 80% of the vote to get in.
As for the product on the field, the Broncos committed nearly $250 million in free agency to upgrade the roster after a 5-12 finish last season that led to yet another coaching change. The Walton-Penner ownership group recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of its $4.65 billion purchase of the franchise.
The Broncos open the regular season on Sept. 10 in Denver against the Las Vegas Raiders.
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Arnie Stapleton, The Associated Press