— The NBA and the NFL have long battled for fans in a state that’s traditionally been known for the baseball, hockey and basketball games.
But in the past decade, the sports leagues have found common ground in expanding their appeal.
The NFL, which played its first regular-season game in Denver in 1990, is now the most popular professional sports league in the state.
And the NBA is a fixture at the Denver airport, with the Denver International Airport Authority, which manages the airport, paying $100 million to play in the 2019 NBA All-Star Game in Denver.
“The NBA is the most visible of all the professional sports leagues,” said Tom Neely, president of the Denver Convention & Visitors Bureau.
“We see the NBA on TV all over the country, in arenas across the country.”
Neely said he expects the league to make the trek to Colorado for the first time in 30 years.
“We’ve been waiting for years for a major event to happen in Colorado,” he said.
“That’s when it’s been happening for the last 30 years.”
The Denver Broncos play at Denver International airport in 2018.
The NFL has made the trip in the last three years.AP Photo/Michael ConroyThe NFL’s first regular season game in Colorado was played in 1970, the year that the NFL franchise was formed in St. Louis.
The game was held in the Denver Coliseum in the city, where the Broncos were the team.
The Denver Stadium opened in 1971, but the NFL moved its first game to St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1976.
In its most recent game in 2020, the Broncos defeated the Dallas Cowboys, 34-24.
Denver is also home to the NFL’s Colorado Titans, a football team that plays its games at the Mile High City’s Civic Center.
“You can go to Denver Stadium and you see the city,” Neely said.
“I think that’s probably the most important thing.”
In 2017, the Denver Broncos announced that they would play a preseason game at Civic Center in 2021.
The Broncos have not played in Denver since the 1960s, when the stadium was demolished for the stadium’s expansion.
The arena’s renovation began in 2007, when then-CEO Dan Reeves took over the reins and hired former NBA star and former Denver Broncos coach Rick Reilly as the stadium project’s director of operations.
Reilly and Reeves were among the first to announce the project in 2007.
In 2013, the team began planning the stadium.
It was not until 2019 that they announced the start of the project, when Reilly was hired as the first general manager.
Neely, the NFL executive vice president of operations, said that the league’s plan is to play at the Civic Center for the entire 2023 season.
“They’ve been very careful not to get too close to the game,” Neely said.
Neely noted that Denver is only two hours away from Denver International, the airport’s main hub for international flights, which means the NFL would not need to make an overnight flight from Denver to play its first games.
“When the game is going to be played, it’ll be a day trip,” Neesl said.
Denver International’s opening game will be played on Feb. 7.
The Broncos will host the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, Feb. 16, the first game of the season for the team that won the Super Bowl in January.
The two teams will play a season-opening game on Jan. 23 at Civic Stadium, which will be filled with thousands of fans.
The Patriots-Broncos game will also be on TV.
“It’s a game that we can’t get into,” Niles said.
The Patriots and Broncos will play for a berth in the Superbowl on Feb 2, 2019.