Hopes are high that Empower Field will continue hosting prep football championships

Saturday at Empower Field at Mile High, Broomfield and Loveland will battle for the Class 4A state football championship. Then Valor Christian and Cherry Creek will take the field for the 5A title game.

Big games played out on the state’s biggest stage. That’s exactly how it should be, for now, and in the future.

That was the unanimous opinion of the four head coaches who spoke Tuesday at the CHSAA’s championship media day at the stadium.

“It’s the looks in the players’ eyes when they walk out of that tunnel for the first time,” Broomfield coach Blair Hubbard said. “Seeing the joy that they get to experience by doing that is special, and there is no other place in the state of Colorado like Mile High Stadium and it’s a big thrill for the coaches and the players.”

Mile High has been home to the big-school championship games for 17 of the past 18 years, the only miss coming during the pandemic in 2020. The contract, however, ends with Saturday’s games. The hope and the expectation are that the Broncos, the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame and CHSAA will find a way to keep the games going at the stadium.

“We are in conversations right now,” said CHSAA commissioner Michael Krueger. “We want to keep it here just as much as everybody else, and we feel good and hopeful about it.”

Tom Lawrence, the president and CEO of the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame, is equally bullish about playing high school football at the home of the Broncos, a tradition that began under the late Pat Bowlen, the team’s longtime owner.

“What’s great about this event is that 19 years ago, Mr. Bowlen and Mac Freeman (former vice president of stadium operations) came to me and said they wanted to host the high school championships at what was then Invesco Field,” Lawrence said. “We approached the folks at CHSAA and were able to put together an agreement. It’s been a fantastic event to have here.”

Lawrence noted that all of the net proceeds from the championship games go back to the youth sports community. According to Lawrence, about $2.5 million has been donated through the years, with about half of that amount going to CHSAA to support high school sports.

“This is the last year of the agreement but we are talking to the folks at CHSAA and hopefully we can do this for years to come,” Lawrence said. “I think everybody wants to do that.”

Cherry Creek coach Dave Logan, who’s attempting to lead the Bruins to their third consecutive state title, played his first official NFL game on Sept. 12, 1976, at Cleveland Municipal Stadium as a rookie wide receiver with the Browns. He remembers the thrill of that day and he wants Colorado high school kids to experience something similar.

“I had never been on an NFL field before and it was so eye-opening for me,”  Logan said. “To give high school kids a chance to experience that is important. Statistically speaking, very few are ever going to get a chance to go on and get that opportunity to play in the NFL. My hope is that the game will always stay here; always stay where the Broncos play.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance for kids to walk out there and experience what NFL guys get to experience every Sunday. I think it’s something we should fight for and do whatever we can to make sure that stays in place.”

Championship TV. Altitude Sports announced that both the 4A and 5A games be televised by the regional sports network. Coverage begins at 11 a.m. with the game on Altitude between No. 2-seeded Broomfield and fourth-seeded Loveland.

The 5A game between No. 1 Cherry Creek and No. 2 Valor is scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m. and can be seen on Altitude 2.

Longtime Colorado sportscaster Vic Lombardi will provide the play-by-play.  He’ll be joined in the booth by analyst Tyler Polumbus, the former Broncos offensive lineman who now works for Altitude Sports Radio 92.5. Kim Becker will report from the sidelines, as well providing gameday features and interviews from coaches and players. Those not unable to get Altitude’s telecasts can find the games live streaming on the NFHS Network at https://www.nfhsnetwork.com/associations/chsaa


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