A facelift in lodo.

Author:Schely, Stewart
Position:SPORTSBIZ
 
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Here's a sentence you never expected to read:

Coors Field is getting old.

Yet it's true, sports fan. The house that revived Denver's Lower Downtown neighborhood turned 22 in April. Since its original Opening Day in 1995, Coors Field has played host to more than 1,700 regular season baseball games that have drawn more than 60 million ticket-holders. That translates to an imposing level of usage: millions of escalator rides, millions of twirls of the turnstiles and an unfathomable pile of outcast peanut shells. I'm applying some educated guessing here, but it's a fair bet the toilets at Coors Field have been flushed more than 90 million times (you do the math).

Turns out that time, even baseball time, really does pass quickly. If you're among the locals who can remember the debut of Major League Baseball in Colorado not so long ago, you might be stunned to realize Coors Field is the third-oldest park in the National League, trailing only Chicago's venerable Wrigley Field and Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Atlanta's Turner Field, two years younger than Coors Field, was abandoned by the Atlanta Braves after last season, succeeded by a glistening new ballpark 10 miles north of downtown Atlanta. In Arlington, where the American League's Texas Rangers inaugurated Globe Life Park Field in 2004, a new ballpark is scheduled to open in 2020.

Similarly, the grand dame of LoDo, to be delicate, is in need of some upkeep. Evaluations commissioned by the Rockies and Colorado's Metropolitan Baseball Stadium District came to similar conclusions: It will cost around $200 million to keep the building in ship-shape for another 30 years. Most of the work is of the pedestrian variety, District spokesman Matt Sugar says. "You're not talking a lot of bells and whistles," he says. "You're talking expansion joists and plumbing fixtures."

The Rockies, who lease the building from the District, think it's worth the cost. And in truth, there's not much leeway otherwise, short of the nuclear option of moving to another city. In the view of both the Rockies and the District, the appetite for public financing of a new ballpark, once a prevailing financial model, is close to nil. "The district and the owner really didn't want to go back to the taxpayer," Sugar says. Nor is there any pressing reason to conclude Coors Field has seen its day from an aesthetic standpoint. Nestled into its LoDo digs, the building remains an iconic symbol of civic renewal.

Instead, Colorado's...

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