DENVER — For the past few decades, the Denver Broncos have been building one of its largest fan bases outside of the Mile High City in another country.
“The largest concentration of Broncos fans outside of the Denver metro area… is in Mexico City,” said Marisol Villagomez, Denver Broncos senior marketing manager.
Villagomez said one Broncos owner with an international vision laid the foundation for the team's brand expansion into other countries.
“Early to mid-90s, Mr. Bowlen was very much of proponent of growing the brand,” Villagomez said. “In 1997 the Denver Broncos had a preseason game in Mexico City where they faced the Dolphins. We didn’t have much luck in the game, but it was enough for us to essentially start harvesting some initial activations there.”
A few Super Bowl wins later, thousands in Mexico City began cheering on the Broncos consistently.
“For the last seven or eight years, the organization has been very intentional about our activations and reach in Mexico. There’s various strategies that are in place,” Villagomez said. “The NFL as a whole, their biggest growth opportunity is in a country that’s south of us.”
Villagomez said while she works to implement some of these strategies, she’s reminded of the challenges she faced moving from Mexico to the United States when she was 5 years old.
“During those 4 or 5 years when I was really struggling, I found my place in sports. Because in sports, I didn’t have to worry about whether my English was right or wrong. A touchdown is a touchdown in English and Spanish,” Villagomez said.
Every week, Mexico City residents Antonio Menendez and Hector “Frank” Talby break down the Denver Broncos games in Spanish for thousands of Latino Broncos fans.
Menendez and Talby are the leaders of Denver Broncos Latino, an official team fan club located in Mexico City.
“I started this project four years ago, and it started to grow a lot. Two years ago, we started to do some podcasts, and a lot of people started to enjoy the videos. They asked for more,” Talby said. “There's only a small piece of Spanish information for Latin American fans, and that’s why I started this project with my teammates, trying to translate the news or give the news in Spanish.”
The podcasts include interviews with Mexican Broncos players, like former wide receiver Marco Martos.
“We have around 10,000 fans on Facebook, around 4,000 on Instagram and Twitter,” Talby said.
Like Talby, many of those fans have never visited Empower Field at Mile High. Talby is planning his first visit toward the end of the season in January.
Antonio Menendez’s first visit was Sept. 26, and he witnessed the Broncos win over the New York Jets.
“Thirty-five years that I have been dreaming of this,” Menendez said. “I’ve been a fan since around 1986. I was a kid, around 6 years old, and the first time I saw a game was the playoffs. An uncle of mine said, ‘Look at that guy. It’s the best player in the NFL,' and it was John Elway.”
Menendez said another quality that attracted him to the team was the name Broncos, a Spanish term.
Menendez and Talby said even though Denver is more than 1,700 miles away from their home, Mexico City is also Broncos Country.