Sports Authority signs on outside of football stadium to be removed

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Sports Authority branding will be taken down outside Sports Authority Field at Mile High within the next week to 10 days, Broncos president and CEO Joe Ellis said Tuesday.

Sports Authority went into bankruptcy in March 2016 and closed all of its stores. It tried to sell the rights, but no new company came forward to put its logo on the home of the Broncos.

Sports Authority had five years left on its contract worth $19.2 million. When it failed to make a $3.6 million payment in August 2016, the former sporting goods retailer was in breach of its contract.

Sports Authority, which has had its name on the stadium since 2011, tried to market the contract. Several companies expressed interest, but no cash bid for the contract was received.

In August 2016, the Broncos emerged as the highest bidder to assume the contract for naming rights to the stadium. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court granted the team the naming rights in November.

Since then, the Broncos have been working without success to secure a new naming rights holder all the while Sports Authority signage was still plastered on the outside of the stadium.

At a season-ending news conference Tuesday, Ellis said work will begin soon on taking down the outside Sports Authority signage.

But the stadium will still be named Sports Authority Field at Mile High because there are some events connected to the name in the coming months.

"I suspect by the start of the season, we will either have a placeholder name or a name on the building that involves a corporation supporting that name," Ellis said.

"That's an important part of our capital funding moving forward."

The Metropolitan Football Stadium District, the public entity that owns the stadium, said it relies on the revenue from naming rights to help pay for stadium upkeep, which is expected to cost about $300 million over the next 30 years.

The Broncos have 13 years left on the lease at the stadium, which opened in 2001.

"I'd like to wrap up the naming rights deal then extend (the lease) because the Broncos aren't going anywhere," Ellis said. "It's important to get the right deal. We continue to have productive discussions with companies and I'm hoping we can get it resolved."