DENVER — Before COVID-19 and stadiums devoid of fans, Ricky Dominguez rarely left his seat at Empower Field at Mile High Stadium.
“Everyone around us knows when he’s not there," said Demetrius Dominguez. "They always ask for him. Even like the ushers at the top of the stands. They knew my dad.”
Family called Ricky Dominguez "the No. 1 Broncos fan." Born in Denver and raised in Thornton, Ricky Dominguez lived for tailgates and Broncos games.
“I knew when we got married that I’m marrying the Broncos as well," Yolanda Dominguez laughed.
Yolanda and Ricky Dominguez were married more than 25 years and had two boys, Demetrius and Dante.
"Once I married Ricky, I learned very quickly what football was, and it’s not only the game, it’s the people," she said. "It’s the environment. It’s the energy."
For Ricky Dominguez, it was also about family.
“[I've] gone to, I don’t know how many games with him – rain, snow, shine," said Demetrius Dominguez. "Some bad ones. Some good ones.”
This off-season, Ricky Dominguez's loved ones felt as empty as the stands at Mile High.
“[Ricky] had colon cancer and unfortunately, we weren’t able to catch it in time," Yolanda Dominguez said. "He was diagnosed in early May and unfortunately, July 21 is when he passed, so it was very, very quick.”
As the Broncos kicked off a new season Monday night, the pandemic provided the Dominguez family an unexpected opportunity.
“You know, I had to do something to keep his memory [at Mile High], said Yolanda Dominguez.
The Dominguez family purchased a fan cutout of Ricky Dominguez from the Denver Broncos. The team is selling a limited number of cutouts for $100.
"By doing the Broncos cutout I still wanted him to still be at the stadium because that was his second home," Yolanda Dominguez said.
While most of the 75,000 seats at Mile High were empty Monday night, many seats were filled with faces of fans like Ricky Dominguez.
His 2D cutout sat in section 132, but by any dimension, a fan like Ricky Dominguez will leave a lasting impression.
“I think for our family, it’s actually nice knowing that Ricky is still there," Yolanda Dominguez said. "You can still see him, so it makes it a little bit easier, I think.”
SUGGESTED VIDEOS: Feature stories