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Invesco out, Sports Authority in for Broncos' stadium name

Until this week, sporting goods retailer Sports Authority Inc. only had its name on community stadiums in suburban Denver and Douglas County schools. On Tuesday, it won a deal to have its name on the stadium where the Broncos play.

Invesco Field at Mile High now will be known as Sports Authority Field at Mile High, after the board of the Metropolitan Football Stadium District unanimously agreed to have Sports Authority take over the last 10 years of Invesco Ltd.'s 20-year, $120 million naming-rights agreement.

The Invesco deal had called for the company to finish paying roughly $32 million through July 31, 2021.

The board will decide later whether to allow Englewood, Colo.-based Sports Authority to extend the naming agreement and for what price. Sports Authority originally had proposed a 25-year deal to assume the rest of Invesco's term and also lock up naming rights through 2035 for $150 million, but the district board wanted to make sure the extension was competitive.

Dozens of Sports Authority employees planned to start working around the clock Wednesday to put the new name on the stadium in time for the Broncos' Sept. 12 regular-season opener against the Oakland Raiders for "Monday Night Football."

"We're excited," Sports Authority chief marketing officer Jeff Schumacher said after the vote.

"My head of construction is on an IV right now," he joked.

The stadium district oversaw construction of the facility, which replaced Mile High Stadium and was financed with private and taxpayer funds.

Polls showed fans preferred keeping the Mile High name, but in 2001, the district sold 20-year naming rights to Invesco for $120 million, with the stadium district and the Broncos equally splitting those revenues.

The district's share of naming-rights revenues helps defray taxpayers' $300 million share of the $400 million cost of the stadium.

Longtime season-ticket holder Karl Stecher of Centennial said he was disappointed the Mile High name was shoved aside in 2001. He urged the district Tuesday to consider a name of "Mile High Stadium, courtesy of Sports Authority," but no one on the board took up his idea.

Board member Jack Hilbert said he was among those who wanted to keep the Mile High name in 2001, but he supported Sports Authority's proposal after hearing the retailer's plans to engage fans with cheeky slogans painted in areas that are now largely white, video booths where fans can record messages to players, and invitations for high school teams to hang their helmets inside the stadium.

"It's the 'and then somes' I'm really liking," Hilbert said.

"What this does is help bring this building to life," Broncos president Joe Ellis said.

Doug Kidd, managing director for corporate affairs at Invesco, said the Sports Authority agreement allows his company to refocus its marketing resources now that its business model has changed. In 2001, Invesco was selling mutual funds directly to the public. These days, it sells mostly through financial advisers and doesn't have as many employees in Denver any more.

"We looked at this offer as presented by the Broncos and Sports Authority as a win for all the parties," Kidd said.

Invesco still plans to have a suite and some signs at the stadium, though far less than before, according to Kidd.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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