McNichols Sports Arena

McNichols Arena

Address 1635 Bryant Street
Denver, CO 80204
  Venue Particulars  
Seating Location
Weather Newspaper
Hotels, Dining & Deals in Denver
  The Facility  
Date Built 1975
City of Denver,
County of Denver
(City of Denver)
Cost of Construction $10 million
Arena Financing City-issued bonds; City and Nuggets funded $12 million in renovations in 1986.
  Other Facts  
Tenants Colorado Avalanche
(NHL) 1995-1999
Denver Nuggets
(NBA) 1975-1999
Former Tenants Denver Nuggets
(ABA) 1975-1976
Denver Spurs
(WHL)(CHL)(WHA) 1968-1976
Colorado Rockies
(NHL) 1976-1982
Denver Avalanche
(MISL) 1980-1982
Colorado Flames
(IHL) 1982-1984
Denver Grizzlies
(IHL) 1994-1995
Denver Dynamite
(AFL) 1987, 1989, 1990
Population Base 2,000,000
On Site Parking 4,700
Nearest Airport 25 Miles
Retired Numbers #99 Wayne Gretzky
Championships 1st

Hockey 16,061
$126, $91, $75, $66, $56, $39, $26, $15
($49.28) - 1998
Basketball 17,171
$34.50, $27.50, $19.50, $16.50, $10.50
($23.69) - 1998
Luxury Suites 27 Suites
Club Seats None
  Attendance History  
Season  Total  Capacity Change
1998-99 658,501 100% 0.01%
1997-98 658,471 99% -0.01%
1996-97 658,501 100% 0.3%
1995-96 656,697 100% 119.4%
1994-95 299,353 79% -50.2%
1993-94 600,695 93% -2.1%
1992-93 613,479 95% 9.8%
1992-95 - Attendance for Le Colisee, Quebec City, PQ, Canada
2004-05 - NHL lockout
1994-95 - Attendance for 24 games due to NHL lockout

Sources: Mediaventures

In 1972, Denver area voters approved a $10 million bond to build a new indoor sports arena. With the cost of the building, land and parking areas, the total price tag came to $16 million. Architects Sink/Combs designed the arena with fan enjoyment as their main concern and thus designed the seating with a sharper skyward angle to allow the audience to be closer to the action or event. Ground breaking took place in 1973, and just two years later, on August 22, 1975, McNichols Sports Arena opened. The first event was on that day with Lawrence Welk playing to a sold-out crowd of 19,000.

McNichols Sports Arena itself, excluding Mile High Stadium, is constructed on forty acres, has close-in parking for 4,700 cars, and when added to the stadium parking of 3,000, total parking available for the complex is 7,700. Within the arena there are 10 million cubic feet, 300,000 of which is usable space.

An average of 140-150 events each year take place at McNichols. It has been the site of the NCAA Basketball Western Regional, and was the host for the 1990 NCCA Final Four. Other events include ice shows, high school sporting events, religious events, boxing, professional wrestling and circuses. Pope John Paul II visited Denver and performed mass at McNichols during World Youth Day festivities in August of 1993. Average attendance pushes 1.3 million per year.

In 1987, a major $14 million remodeling and improvements project added many patron amenities. Renovations included a new Video Diamond Vision II, a closed-circuit TV system throughout the arena, a wider concourse, a new arena sound system, private suites, improved concession stands and many other improvements for patrons. A Sico Fold-N'Set stage was added to further increase the versatility of McNichols and help speed up the process of set up and tear down between events.

The History of Professional Hockey in Denver

The first professional hockey team arrived in Denver 35 years ago. Since then, eight different hockey teams have at one time called the Mile High city home...

The Denver Falcons were the pioneers of professional hockey in Denver. The team was established in June of 1950 and belonged to the United States Hockey League. Owners Charles Boettcher III, Will Nicholson and Eddie Nicholson hired former New York Ranger Bill Cook to coach the team. The Falcons played at the Denver University Arena during the 1950-51 season. The USHL folded in the summer of 1951.

It was eight years before the city got their second hockey team-the Denver Mavericks of the International Hockey League. The team was established in June of 1959 by owner Eugene Cliff. The Mavericks' home ice was at the Denver Coliseum. The team was hardly in town long enough to call it home though, folding mid-season. A lack of financial support led to the sale of the team in December of 1959. The team was moved to Minnesota and became the Minneapolis Millers.

A Western Hockey League team was the next to "invade" Colorado. The Denver Invaders were established in June of 1963 and were primarily owned by the Toronto Maple Leafs. Following in the foot steps of their predecessors, the Invaders lasted only a season at the Denver Coliseum. The Maple Leafs moved the team in 1964 after being offered a better deal at an arena in British Columbia.

Denver hockey fans finally got something to cheer about when the Denver Spurs remained in town for a second season. The team was established in January of 1968 by owner Timothy Collins. The hockey club was sold to Ivan Mullenix in 1972. Originally a WHL team, the Spurs became a part of the Central Hockey League in 1974 and moved to the World Hockey Association in 1975. Mullenix thought he would get an NHL franchise for the 1976-77 season, the year McNichols Arena would be ready. To the disappointment of Mullenix and Denver fans, the NHL did not come. On January 2nd, 1976, the Spurs left Denver on a road trip and never came back! The Spurs left 1,600 season ticket holders behind and they were never reimbursed.

Hockey fans in Colorado would see their patience rewarded in August of 1976 when the NHL announced that Denver had been awarded the Kansas City Scouts franchise. The Rockies were originally owned by Jack Vickers but sold to Arthur Imperatore in 1978. Imperatore wanted to move the team to the Meadowlands in New Jersey but the NHL wouldn't approve the move until the Meadowlands Arena was complete. Peter Gilbert purchased the team in 1980 and requested formal approval to move the team to New Jersey. On June 3, 1982 the Rockies were sold to John McMullen and moved to New Jersey. The "Rockies" are now the Devils, the former Stanley Cup Champions.

The ice at McNichols Arena wasn't empty long, the Colorado Flames of the Central Hockey League were established in July of 1982. The team was coached by Pierre Page (Calgary Flames Head Coach) and owned by Doug Spedding. Despite the efforts of Spalding to make the CHL team a success, it folded at the end of the 1982-83 season.

The International Hockey League returned to Denver in November of 1986. The Colorado/Denver Rangers were owned by Dennis Champine and Mike Ilitch Jr. Illitch pulled out and the financial burden was too much for Champine. The team was sold to Richard Gerry and Sidney Shlenker in September of 1988. The two owners didn't have enough time to turn things around and had to declare bankruptcy in June of 1989.

Hockey came out of hibernation in 1993 when the Denver Grizzlies were established. The International Hockey League team is owned by David Elmore and Donna Tuttle. The 1994-95 Grizzlies captured the IHL Championship in their first season, averaging 12,000 fans per game. In May of 1995, COMSAT Entertainment Group announced an agreement in principle to purchase the Quebec Nordiques of the NHL. The Turner Cup Champion Grizzlies moved to Salt Lake City, Utah.

On July 1, 1995, COMSAT Entertainment Group officially acquired the Quebec Nordiques. Within 37 days of announcing the NHL's return to Denver, 12,000 season tickets were sold. On August 10, 1995 the team was introduced to the world as the Colorado Avalanche.

February 1997 - Colorado coach Marc Crawford didn't endear himself at Denver's City Hall when he termed McNichols Arena "the worst building in the league.''

Anxious for the delayed dual-purpose Pepsi Centre to be built so that the Avalanche can generate funds to pay its stars, Crawford is tired of taking flak from visiting coaches and media.

"All they ever say is, `That's awful,' and they're right,'' said Crawford. A spokesman for the city claimed the rinks in Dallas, Los Angeles, Washington and Hartford rank behind McNichols. However, the team, not the city, footed the bill for $400,000 in upgrades to the boards and glass prior to last spring's playoffs.

Last Big Mac game

The last hockey game ever played at McNichols Sports Arena will take place September 27, 1999 when the Avalanche plays the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in a preseason game.

The 7:05 p.m. game will conclude the preseason for both teams. The Avs will begin play at the Pepsi Center early in October.

The Avs did not release their full preseason schedule yet, but they will play one other game against Anaheim - September 12, 1999 at the Arrowhead Pond.

Denver Spurs / Ottawa Civics

Civic Center

Kansas City Scouts / Colorado Rockies / New Jersey Devils

Kemper Arena
Kemper Arena
Continental Airlines
Continental Airlines
Prudential Center
Prudential Center

Quebec Nordique / Colorado Avalanche

Colisee de Quebec
Colisee de Quebec
Pepsi Center
Pepsi Center

Denver Nuggets

Auditorium Arena
McNichols Arena
Pepsi Center
Pepsi Center

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