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The lease agreement between the stadium district and Pat Bowlen’s PDB Sports specifies that the money be spent on “youth activity programs.” (Jack Dempsey, AP Photo, File)

Communities where a sales tax to support the Denver Broncos stadium was collected for more than a decade have started to receive checks for their share of the $4.65 billion sale of the team.

The seven counties and 40 municipalities in the Metro Stadium District are sharing $41 million intended to support youth programs. The checks range from $12.5 million for Denver to $112 for Castle Pines.

The money comes from a provision of the lease and management agreement approved in 1998 between the district, PDB Sports and Stadium Management Company that requires 2% of the net proceeds of the sale to be paid to the district to be used for youth activity programs.

Director of Stadium Affairs Matt Sugar said the one-time payment the district received was unexpected because the lease was approved so long ago. The final price for the team also caught people off guard, he said. The purchase of the team by an investor group led by Walmart heir Rob Walton, his daughter, Carrie Walton Penner, and her husband, Greg Penner, was approved by the NFL team owners group in August.

In Larkspur, officials are still contemplating how to work $56,000 from the stadium district into the 2023 budget, Town Clerk Sean Hogan said. 

“When we received a check for $56,000, at first we were like, what is this for?” Hogan said. “That $56,000 goes a long way for us. Now, we’re just trying to decide where we would be able to spend that money. It was a pleasant surprise.” 

The district cut checks proportional to the amount each county and municipality collected in the one-tenth of one-percent sales tax that helped fund the Mile High stadium, which is owned by the district. Taxpayers funded 75% of stadium construction through the tax, which was in effect from 2001 to 2011. 

The profit sharing was included in 1998 legislation that authorized extending the sales tax used to pay for Coors Field for another decade to help pay for a new football stadium.

The lease agreement between the stadium district and Pat Bowlen’s PDB Sports specifies that the money be spent on “youth activity programs.” The broad language will make it hard for the district to regulate the use of funds, Sugar said. Communities can interpret how they’d like to use the money, and Sugar said he hopes they will invest in programs like after-school mentoring, music and art, sports, and mental health resources.

“(Youth activity programs) could mean something to one community and something else to another of what they see that the youth in their community needs,” Sugar said. “I’m hoping that these folks take into consideration the intent of that law, which we believe is to benefit youth through different programs.”

Denver is receiving the largest share of the money, according to Sugar. 

“(Denver) is working on a plan to spend it on our youth, as required by the agreement,” Josh Rosenblum, public information officer for the city’s finance department, said in an email. “Kids have been through a great deal over these past couple of years so this comes to us at an important time when we can further ensure that Denver children get the resources they deserve.”

Cherry Hills Village may use its $25,000 apportionment for its park and recreation fund, Director of Finance and Administration Doug Farmen said.

Officials in Brighton, which received $454,084, may ask the city’s youth commission for suggestions on where to direct the money, said Catrina Asher, the city’s finance director. Other options may include funding recreational programs or expanding a field, Asher said, but the city has not yet made a decision.

“We just don’t really have a decision yet on how we even want to allocate it, knowing that it needs to be a one-time cost and not ongoing because it’s a one-time funding source,” Asher said.

Delaney Nelson

Delaney Nelson is The Colorado Sun's 2022 Medill School of Journalism Fellow.