DENVER -- The Denver Broncos are one step closer to giving their stadium a new name.
The team has assumed the debt of Sports Authority to keep the naming rights case out of bankruptcy court and away from the bankrupt sporting goods retailer.
Sports Authority is shuttering all of its stores nationwide, and missed its August payment to the Broncos and the Metropolitan Stadium District for naming rights to Mile High.
That means the team will likely regain the naming rights to Mile High on or about August 31, when bankruptcy courts release those rights.
The Broncos said they want to maximize proceeds with a new naming rights contract, especially given the TV contracts and other revenues that come with being the current Super Bowl 50 World Champions.
“We want to bring forward the best possible deal and bring the community the best possible naming rights partner,” said Joe Ellis, CEO and president of the Denver Broncos.
Sports Authority’s name is still on the stadium for now, but the signage could change as soon as kickoff of the regular season home opener on Thursday, September 8.
“To me it's always been Mile High,” said Broncos fan Adam Bornstein. “It's the only way to go. It's what everyone recognizes. It's part of the team. And if you can’t name it what feels best for the fans, for the players – don’t overcomplicate things.”
But Ellis said Wednesday, candidly, there's too much money to be made selling the name.
"There is,” Ellis said. “We're going to sell the name."
Ellis said those proceeds pay for stadium improvements, upgrades and maintenance.
"What we don't want to have happen here is 10-15 years out, we're stuck in a building that is no longer compatible for the people that use it, the fans," he said. “If we are in that situation, then we have to build a new stadium. And nobody wants to do that.”
Ellis indicated a new stadium in 10 to 15 years could cost $2 billion.
In terms of front runners for the naming rights, Ellis was more guarded.
"We don't have any that I would break here in front of you at all, but we've been talking to some people and there will be interest,” Ellis said. “There's no question about it."
On Wednesday, Ellis also put to bed rumors that a marijuana dispensary might be in the running for naming rights. "I don't think so,” he said.
On the sidelines at training camp, there's certainly no shortage of opinions.
"It's very quintessential [for] Denver to call it Mile High," said Broncos fan Rachel Bornstein.
"What else is big in Denver?” asked Broncos fan Nicole Frickman. “Like, Purina Puppy Chow Stadium? Or, I wouldn’t mind Peyton Manning Stadium."
In the interim, the Broncos assume the debt of Sports Authority, so the Broncos will pay the Metropolitan Stadium District $3.6 million initially. That way, the stadium district doesn't lose any money.