PHOENIX — Your team can have six consecutive losing seasons and the NFL’s second-longest playoff drought, as the Broncos are carrying into the 2023 season. You can switch head coaches six times in 10 seasons, as the Broncos have done from John Fox in 2014 to Sean Payton in 2023.
You can raise the ticket prices, as the Broncos did this year despite their football team’s skid of on-field disappointment and upheaval. You can list 40 options on the new concept (at least locally it’s new) of Private Seat Licenses (PSLs), as the Broncos did in their new-stadium survey.
And still the overwhelming majority of Broncos’ season-ticket holders say, where do I send the check?
“We’re up to nearly 95 percent of our reserved seats [that] have been renewed already,’’ Broncos president Damani Leech said on a sunny Tuesday morning here at the NFL owners meetings one the Arizona Biltmore resort grounds. “Which is a testament to our fans. Still a waiting list, over 50,000 fans on the waiting list, engaged.’’
Darn right, it’s a testament to the loyalty of Broncos fans. There is not another fan base like it in the NFL.
Leech’s primary responsibility is heading the Broncos’ business and marketing operations but unlike most business where it’s about profits, success and failure in the football business is measured by wins and losses.
Empower Field scoreboard construction
Damani Leech, a former defensive back at Princeton, and the Broncos’ ownership group of Greg and Carrie Penner and Rob Walton of who he answers to, understand the priority.
“They’re incredibly savvy business people,’’ Leech said of the Penners and Walton. “They understand people, they understand customers but they’re also committed to winning. I think we have a good shared and aligned vision on a desire to put football first and being a winning team and organization and it feels good now.
“I think stability is a great word. You not only feel it, you feel excitement and energy in the building. Really excited about next season. You heard the coach (Payton) say it and across the organization it’s: ‘Put your head down and do the work.’ We’re going to engage the fans and try to connect with the fans but less pomp and circumstance. We really want to prove it on the field.”
Two areas where business and marketing intersect with football operations are with the stadium venue and player uniforms. Broncos owners and Leech have toured all the newer stadiums in the NFL – from Los Angeles and Las Vegas to Minnesota and Dallas to New Jersey and Atlanta, plus the new venues in London and Germany - to get ideas of what they would want if they decide to build a new home for Denver’s team.
“A lot of the stadiums what you’re seeing now, wider concourses, more restrooms,’’ Leech said. “Really try to make it as hospitable as possible for fans.’’
Besides having their own ideas, Leech is overseeing two different fans surveys that were distributed last week – one in regards to the current stadium that is Empower Field at Mile High and the other about a potential new stadium at a location to be determined in part by fans’ survey results.
“Certainly we want and value the feedback of our fans,’’ Leech said. “We don’t presume to know the answer to everything.’’
As for the PSLs – which are one-time fees for the right to purchase a season-ticket seat each year – Leech said: “I think 7 of the last 8 stadiums have been built using PSLs. So we definitely don’t want to avoid asking questions. That’s one of the questions we were curious about.’’
Leech also said the team is conducting surveys with fan groups on a potential new uniform design, although such a switch will take some time. Meaning not this year. What could happen in 2023 is Bronco players wearing an alternative second helmet for a game or two.
“It’s something we’re definitely exploring,’’ he said. “And we do have the possibility of doing it this year and we’re exploring that as well.”
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