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1974-1975 Denver Dynamos

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Denver DynamosNorth American Soccer League (1974-1975)

Born: January 31, 1974 – NASL expansion franchise.
Moved: November 1975 (Minnesota Kicks)

Stadium: Mile High Stadium (43,103)

Team Colors: Royal Blue & White

Owners: Richard Olson, Calvin Kunz, et al.

NASL Championships: None

 

The Denver Dynamos were Colorado’s first major professional soccer franchise.  The team was added to the North American Soccer League on the final day of January 1974, leaving the organization just three months to prepare for its May 1975 debut.  The Dynamos were part of a major West Coast expansion of the NASL during the winter of 1973-74.  Three of the other Western clubs formed during this 50-day expansion flurry – the San Jose Earthquakes, Seattle Sounders and Vancouver Whitecaps – went on to become iconic American soccer brands.  Re-boots of all three clubs play in Major League Soccer today.  The Dynamos, meanwhile, are all but forgotten.

Denver DynamosThe Dynamos played two losing seasons at Mile High Stadium. The 1974 squad finished last in the NASL’s Central Division with a 5-15 record. The 1975 squad was marginally improved at 9-13 but still failed to make the playoffs.

The Dynamos’ best player was South African striker Ace Ntsoelengoe, who joined the team in 1975. Ntsoelengoe finished 9th in the NASL in scoring that summer with 10 goals and 5 assists.

In November 1975 Dynamos ownership sold out to Minneapolis interests.  The team was re-named the Minnesota Kicks in 1976 and became a hot ticket in Minneapolis during the late 1970’s, occasionally drawing crowds in excess of 40,000.  The club fell on hard times in the early 1980’s and went out of business in late 1981.

The NASL returned to Denver and Mile High Stadium three years after the Dynamos failed, adding the Caribous of Colorado expansion team in 1978. The Caribous were even less successful than the Dynamos, leaving town for Atlanta after just one losing season.

 

Denver Dynamos Memorabilia

 

In Memoriam

Former Dynamos forward Ace Ntsoelengoe died of a heart attack on May 8, 2006 at age 54.

 

Links

North American Soccer League Media Guides

North American Soccer League Programs

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Written by AC

October 18th, 2015 at 4:28 pm

2003-2008 Colorado Crush

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Damian Harrell Colorado CrushArena Football League (2003)

Born: June 19, 2002 – Arena Football expansion franchise.
Folded: 
August 2009

Arena: Pepsi Center (17,210)

Team Colors: Navy Blue, Burnt Orange & Gold

Owners: Pat Bowlen, John ElwayStan Kroenke

Arena Bowl Champions: 2005

 

The Colorado Crush were an Arena Football team that played at the Pepsi Center in Denver from 2003 until the dissolution and bankruptcy of the original Arena Football League following the 2008 season.  The team was backed by major league investors Pat Bowlen (Denver Broncos owner) and Stan Kroenke (Colorado Avalanche and Denver Nuggets owner), with ex-Broncos QB John Elway as co-owner and franchise front man.

After a grim 2-14 expansion season in 2003, the Crush turned the corner with the hiring of Head Coach Mike Dailey in 2004.  The Crush made the playoffs in four of the next five seasons under Dailey’s direction, winning Arena Bowl XIX 51-48 over the Georgia Force at the end of the 2005 season.

Offensive Specialist Damian Harrell, formerly of Florida State, played for the Crush from 2003 through 2007 and was named the league’s Offensive Player-of-the-Year in 2005 and 2006.

 

==Colorado Crush Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Year Date Opponent Score Program Other

2005

2005 5/8/2005 @ New Orleans Voodoo  W 63-57 Program

2008

2008 3/22/2008 @ Chicago Rush L 70-35 Program
2008 5/24/2008 @ San Jose Sabercats L 59-42 Program

 

==Links==

Arena Football League Media Guides

Arena Football League Programs

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Written by AC

March 9th, 2015 at 4:54 pm

1976-1982 Colorado Rockies

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Lanny McDonald Colorado RockiesNational Hockey League (1976-1982)

Born: 1976 – The Kansas City Scouts relocate to Denver, CO.
Moved
: May 27, 1982 (New Jersey Devils)

Arena: McNichols Arena

Team Colors:

Owners:

Stanley Cup Championships: None

 

The Colorado Rockies hockey team was a star-crossed organization that spent most of its six seasons in Denver attempting to move elsewhere.  The Rockies began life in 1974 as the Kansas City Scouts, a poorly vetted NHL expansion effort. After two disastrous seasons in K.C., the destitute Scouts were purchased by Colorado oilman Jack Vickers in the summer of 1976.  Vickers immediately moved the team to Denver’s McNichols Arena for the 1976-77 NHL season.

Denver trudged a long, weird path to make it into the National Hockey League.  During the late 1960’s and early 70’s, the city enjoyed the minor league Denver Spurs, who played at the Denver Coliseum.  In 1972, the World Hockey Association formed and fired a shot across the NHL’s bow by signing Chicago Blackhawks star Bobby Hull to an historic $1 million contract.  Further raids on NHL rosters followed and the warring leagues soon began fighting over expansion cities.  Denver was attractive to both leagues, especially with the brand new 16,000-seat McNichols Arena due to open in 1975.

Barry Beck Colorado RockiesIn 1974, Spurs owner Ivan Mullenix landed conditional approval for an NHL expansion club to begin play in the fall of 1976.  But with McNichols Arena ready for 1975, Mullenix pushed to get into the NHL a year earlier.  The plan called for Mullenix to acquire one of the NHL’s basket case franchises of the era – either the California Golden Seals or the Pittsburgh Penguins.  But those maneuvers collapsed in early 1975 and with the Spurs’ future in the NHL looking shaky, Mullenix abruptly joined the rival World Hockey Association instead that spring.  Denver fans, promised NHL for more than a year, were displeased with the bait and switch.  They stayed away in droves and the Spurs only lasted three months in the WHA before bolting town midway through the 1975-76 season.

This was the landscape that Vickers inherited when NHL hockey finally arrived in Denver in the autumn of 1976.  “Rocky Hockey” could have been a coronation after years of struggle.  Instead, it was just Act II of the perverse soap opera that was Colorado hockey during the Me Decade.  For starters, the Rockies were consistently terrible.  The team had seven head coaches in six seasons and in their best season finished 23 games below .500.  The Rockies never won a playoff game in their brief lifespan.

By the spring of 1978, Vickers had lost somewhere between $4.5 and $6 million on the Rockies and was fed up with the lease at McNichols Arena.  The Rockies nearly move to Houston in June 1978, but instead Vickers sold the team later that summer to New Jersey trucking baron Arthur Imperatore.  Imperatore was clear about his ambition to move the Rockies to New Jersey to play in the new Brendan Byrne Arena in East Rutherford but the new building wouldn’t be ready until 1981.  The Rockies would stay in Denver another four years, but they always had the feel of short-timers.

Don Cherry Colorado RockiesDuring the second year of Imperatore’s ownership, in 1979-80, the Rockies made their two biggest acquisitions.  First, they hired the colorful former Boston Bruins chieftain Don Cherry and made him the highest paid coach in the National Hockey League.  And midway through the season, they traded one of their top players, Wilf Paiement, to the miserly Toronto Maple Leafs for future Hall-of-Famer Lanny McDonald.  Cherry was a fan favorite in Colorado and McDonald quickly established himself as the Rockies’ top scoring threat.

But as usual the club’s chronic instability rapidly undermined any sense of excitement or momentum.  The Rockies finished in last place (19-48-13) under Cherry, while the coach clashed all season long with General Manager Ray Miron.  Cherry was fired at the end of the season (no Rockies coach ever lasted longer than one season).  McDonald was traded to Calgary in 1981 after playing just one full season for Colorado.  And Imperatore gave up on the NHL and sold the club to Buffalo cable TV entrepreneur Peter Gilbert in late 1980, the team’s third owner in four years.

By the spring of 1982, the Brendan Byrne Arena was open for business in the swamps of northern New Jersey.  Peter Gilbert sold the team yet again, this time to Houston Astros owner John McMullen.  McMullen pulled off the complex maneuver that had eluded Arthur Imperatore, paying off the New York Islanders, New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers to gain the NHL’s blessing to move to New Jersey in May 1982.

Postscript: Don Cherry never coached again in the NHL after being dismissed by the Rockies in the spring of 1980.  But he became a Canadian icon as the between-periods host of “Coaches Corner” on CBC’s Hockey Night In Canada NHL broadcasts.  In 2004, Cherry was voted the “7th Greatest Canadian” in a CBC poll.

The NHL returned to Denver in 1995 when the Quebec Nordiques relocated to the Mile High City and became the Colorado Avalanche.

 

Colorado Rockies Shop


Rockies Men’s Lacer Heavyweight Hoodie by Old Time Hockey

Rockies Vintage T-Shirt by Original Retro Brand

In Memoriam

Peter Gilbert, the final owner of the Rockies, died of cancer on March 26, 1989 at age 62.  New York Times obit.

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1987-1991 Denver Dynamite

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Denver DynamiteArena Football League (1987 & 1989-1991)

Born: 1987 – Arena Football League founding franchise.
Died: Postseason 1991 – The Dynamite cease operations.

Arena: McNichols Arena (17,022)

Team Colors: Royal Blue & Gold

Owners:

Arena Bowl Champions: 1987

 

The Denver Dynamite own a (very) minor place in pro football history as the answer to a trivia question: What city claimed the first championship of Arena Football?  The Dynamite won Arena Bowl I back in 1987, concluding a brief 6-game regular season with a 45-16 demolition of the Pittsburgh Gladiators before 13,000 fans at the Pittsburgh Civic Arena on August 1, 1987.

Arena Football expanded from four to six teams in 1988 and sought local limited partners for each franchise for the first time.  But no investor could be found in Denver, so the league’s defending champion was shut down and left off the 1988 schedule.

The following year, Arena Football nearly shut down after a revolt by the local limited partners against league founder Jim Foster.  Foster survived the coup, but the league was only able to stage a brief 4-game regular season contested by 5 clubs. Needing teams to fill out the 1989 schedule, the Dynamite uniforms were hauled out of storage and the team was re-formed as a league-operated club.  But the 1989 team had only one home date at McNichols Arena.  The rest of the team’s games were played on the road or as league showcases in neutral cities.

In fact, from 1987 through 1989, the Dynamite had virtually nothing to do with the city of Denver.  During those three years, the Arena League staged only four games in the Mile High City.  And three of those games came during a three-week stretch in July of 1987.  You might have heard of the team, but damned if you could ever find a game to go. Denver Dynamite In April 1990, Foster finally found a Denver-area investor named Gary J. Graham who agreed to pay $125,000 for the rights to the Denver territory.  Under Graham’s management, the Dynamite became a true local team. The Dynamite played full schedules at McNichols Arena in the summers of 1990 and 1991.  However, the team soon ran into financial problems including missed payrolls and creditor lawsuits. The Dynamite went out of  business for good in late 1991.

Marty Mornhinweg, who later became Head Coach of the NFL’s Detroit Lions in 2001-2002, played quarterback for the Dynamite in 1987, appearing in just one game before suffering an injury. Arena Football returned to Denver in 2003 with the arrival of the Colorado Crush, owned by Mile High heavyweights Pat Bowlen, Stan Kroenke and John Elway.  The Crush were a popular fixture on the local sports scene, playing from 2003 until 2008, when the original Arena Football League closed its doors and declared bankruptcy.

 

Denver Dynamite Memorabilia

 

Dynamite Video

Arena Bowl I. The Dynamite rout the Pittsburgh Gladiators 45-16 at the Pittsburgh Civic Arena on August 1, 1987.

 

In Memoriam

Former Dynamite Head Coach Tim Marcum (’87) passed away on December 5, 2013 at age 69. Tampa Bay Times obituary.

 

Links

Denver Dynamite exploded in Arena League’s first season, then fizzled out“, Joey Bunch, The Denver Post, October 22, 2012

Arena Football League Media Guides

Arena Football League Programs

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Written by AC

December 28th, 2014 at 3:13 am

1996-1998 Colorado Xplosion

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Colorado XplosionAmerican Basketball League (1996-1998)

Born: February 7, 1996 – ABL founding franchise.
Folded: December 22, 1998

Arenas:

Team Colors: Black, Blue & Yellow

Owner: American Basketball League

ABL Championships: None

 

The Colorado Xplosion were the Denver franchise in the women’s American Basketball League, which lasted for two-and-a-half seasons from 1996 to 1998.  After the 1996 Olympics, two rival women’s leagues sprung up.  The bootstrap ABL launched first, played in the winter time, offered the best pay, and initially signed many of the best Olympic-caliber women’s players.  The NBA-backed Women’s National Basketball Association had David Stern’s marketing machine behind it, richer owners and better television and media deals.  In less than three years, the WNBA and the generally challenging marketplace for women’s pro sports drove the ABL to bankruptcy in December 1998.

But it was fun while it lasted.  The Xplosion were a pretty strong club.  In the ABL’s inaugural season, they had the second best record in the regular season at 25-15. But the Richmond Rage bounced Colorado in the first round of the playoffs.  During their second season, the Xplosion regressed a bit, barely making the playoffs at 21-23.  Once again, they lost in the first round, this time to the Long Beach Stingrays.  Season three saw the Xplosion off to slow start and in last place in their division at 5-8 when the ABL abruptly shut down on December 22, 1998, having run out of money to continue operations.

Top players included two-time ABL All-Stars Debbie Black and Crystal Robinson.  Black was the shortest player in the league at 5′ 3″. Nevertheless, she tenacious on the boards and ranked among the league’s top 15 total rebounders during the ABL’s first two seasons.  She also was the ABL’s all-time steals leader and ranked third in assists for the two full seasons the league completed. Robinson led the Xplosion in scoring both seasons was among the league’s top three-point threats.

Sylvia Crawley drew the most national media attention for the team. The 6′ 5″forward executed a blindfolded dunk at the 1998 ABL All-Star Game and won what was billed as the first ever slam dunk contest for women.

The Xplosion split their home games between McNichols Arena and the smaller Denver Coliseum in each of their season.  Attendance was pretty consistent through the team’s brief run, holding a steady average of just under 4,000 per game.  A February 1st, 1998 game at McNichols against the New England Blizzard set the club’s all-time mark with 13,489 fans on hand.

 

Colorado Xplosion Memorabilia

 

Links

American Basketball League Media Guides

American Basketball League Programs

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Written by AC

February 9th, 2014 at 3:57 pm

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