Rockies Roundtable: Can Denver Ever Become A “Baseball Town?”

Sep 5, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; A Colorado Rockies fan awaits a pitch during the ninth inning against the San Francisco Giants at Coors Field. The Rockies defeated the Giants 6-0. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 5, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; A Colorado Rockies fan awaits a pitch during the ninth inning against the San Francisco Giants at Coors Field. The Rockies defeated the Giants 6-0. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /
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Colorado Rockies starting lineup displayed at Coors Field
Aug 19, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rockies starting line up of player profiles before the game against the Chicago Cubs at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

Last week, Rockies Roundtable made its debut with a discussion about the most exciting September call-ups for the Colorado Rockies. This week, we sat down to answer this question: Can Denver ever become a “baseball town?”

Here’s what our writers had to say…

Nolan LeesDenver’s eligibility as a “baseball town” depends on how you define that term.

If/when the Rockies are competing for playoff spots again, I don’t doubt that there will be plenty of people willing to pack Coors Field.

“Bandwagon fan” is one of the biggest insults in sports fandom, but the truth is that nearly every team has fewer fans when they struggle and more fans when they’re successful. There’s no reason to believe that a Rockies return to the playoffs wouldn’t generate the same type of excitement we saw in 2007 and 2009.

That being said, if you’re asking me if I think the Rockies can become the most popular team in Denver consistently, and not just for a few months … well, I wouldn’t say it’s impossible, but I definitely have my doubts.

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If you’ve spent more than about five minutes in this state, it’s pretty obvious that the Denver Broncos are the kings of the Colorado sport scene. Every year, right around this time, local interest in the Rockies tends to wane as the NFL season kicks into gear.

The Broncos are beloved for two main reasons: They’re usually at least above-average, and perhaps more importantly, they have a long history with the state. Generations of Colorado families have passed down a love for Broncos football for more than 50 years. The Rockies just haven’t been here long enough to create that type of bond yet.

The fastest and most effective way to turn any city into a “baseball town” (or any kind of “sport town”) is to put a consistently excellent product on the field. I think most of us at the site believe the Rockies are getting closer to doing that soon, and that should help in establishing the team as a Colorado institution.

But Denver right now is absolutely a football town, and I don’t think one good Rockies season, or even a couple of good seasons, will be enough to change that.

Kevin Henry: Turn on Denver’s main sports radio station any time of year and you’re going to hear something about the Broncos. After all, as the station proudly states, there’s never an offseason for Broncos football.

I’ll never forget the day that Jeff Hoffman was called up to pitch for the Rockies. I was driving into Denver and turned on the radio hoping to hear their take on Hoffman and what he brings to the table.

Instead, I heard this station tell its listeners that Hoffman was starting the next day (wrong) and then they dove into a discussion of the new backup tight end the Broncos had just signed. They had all sorts of stats and intel on this new Bronco, but couldn’t tell you anything about a guy who was expected to be one of the cornerstones of Colorado’s baseball future.

As I write this, I’m sitting at a Tuesday night game in downtown Denver with the Giants and Rockies squaring off in front of a very sparse crowd. It’s a beautiful night and many of the key pieces of the Rockies’ future, including David Dahl, Raimel Tapia, and Tyler Anderson are out there. The best third baseman in the game is manning the hot corner for Colorado. Yet there’s a lot of orange in the crowd, and it’s because of the Giants, not the Broncos.

It’s going to take a streak of consistent winning seasons for Denver to turn into a baseball town … if (and that’s a big if) it ever does. I predict winning baseball next season and a real shot at the postseason for the Rockies. Denver will start caring and will hop on the bandwagon, but it won’t be the year-round obsession that the Broncos are.

Can Denver be a baseball town? From time to time, sure. Will it ever be consistently? No. Like the Avs, Nuggets, Outlaws and Mammoth, the Rockies are the second-most interesting sports team in Denver … and probably always will be.

Next: More Roundtable Thoughts on the Next Page