ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Save for what seems to be a battalion of construction workers moving and around the Denver Broncos' complex these days, the team conducted its first training camp practice Thursday in relative peace and quiet.
In short, the Broncos threw a training camp party and nobody came. Because, well, for a variety of liability concerns, they can’t.
With a $35 million project ongoing, a massive makeover that includes a new indoor practice complex, the Broncos have had to deny fans of what has become a summer tradition for many in the region.
As workers welded on a new tower for the team’s video crew 15 yards away from some of the players, the Broncos went through their morning workout with the sounds that have become part of their days in recent months.
“We’ve been through it all through OTAs," said Broncos head coach John Fox.
But there were no roars of approval for the arrival of the team’s marquee players, no cheers for long completions, no oohs for an interception. It was just players and coaches, as if it were a regular-season practice.
When the usual training camp blahs kick in next week and beyond, the Broncos will have to find a way to kick-start themselves as the two-a-days roll by.
“I tried to grease a couple of these construction guys, trying to get them to speed this process up try and get the fans out here for a couple days of training camp," said quarterback Peyton Manning. “It was noticeably different today and the challenge will be on the players to kind of find that extra motivation internally because it’s not going to come from somebody cheering you on over there on the grass, like in years past. The players have to do it themselves."
The Broncos will have three practices at Sports Authority Field at Mile High – Sunday, Wednesday and Aug. 2 – to try and give fans a chance to see the team before the preseason games. For fans, it's some relatively short-term pain for what the team hopes is long-term gain, as there will be more room for fans in future training camps.
Last summer, the Broncos set an attendance record at their Dove Valley complex when a total of 41,925 fans attended 15 open workouts -- the Broncos didn’t have bleachers, so fans sat on a grassy berm -- in addition to 44,439 who attended a scrimmage at the stadium.
When the project is completed, the Broncos say they should have three times as much space to accommodate fans.