In October 1995, the Colorado Rapids were introduced as one of Major League Soccer’s 10 charter teams. As one of the league's longest tenured members, the organization has brought a number of landmark moments to Denver, highlighted by a MLS Cup victory in 2010. Three years before their championship campaign, the Rapids became the centerpiece of Dick’s Sporting Goods Park—a sprawling complex that features a total of 24 fully lit sports fields. During Rapids matches, fans get swept up in the park’s lively atmosphere driven by Centennial 38, the team's official supporters group. In their designated “Supporter’s Terrace”, C38 members lead raucous cheers and wave massive flags to inspire their side.
A plethora of mock-rock climbing challenges populates The Spot Bouldering Gym with 10,000 square feet of vertical obstacles. Rock climbers can spend all day scaling man-made mountains up to 18 feet high, gripping massive boulders made in the image of Hueco, Fontainebleau, and Abraham Lincoln's nose. Other trials include the gravity-fighting 25-foot roped wall, an assortment of muscle-mightying training equipment, and cushy flooring for seamless dismounts. No experience is necessary to tackle the upright obstacles at The Spot; the congenial crew eagerly shares climbing tips and creates encouraging victory pyramids.
Derby was reborn in the early 2000s as a ferociously fun sport. Nearly all modern leagues are composed of female, DIY-spirited bands of punky costumed, vicious-monikered rascals who shove each other on traditional quad roller skates. The Rocky Mountain Rollergirls, Denver's original all-women flat-track roller derby league, is operated by the more than 40 skaters who makeup its six teams: home teams Red Ridin' Hoods, Sugar Kill Gang, Dooms Daisies, Kill Scouts, and traveling teams, Fight Club and the Contenders. These fearless athletes leave bouts with sprained shoulders, bruises, and hematomas, which is nothing compared to the competitors' pain (the ladies took home second place in the 2009 Women’s Flat Track Derby Association regional tournament and fourth in the national tournament).
Shoppers at the Southlands can take a break from gift buying by taking a turn on this icy outdoor skating rink. Families and friends can lace up rented hockey or figure skates, then take to the ice to enjoy the crisp, cold air as they practice spins and backward maneuvers or fine-tune impersonations of a baby deer learning to walk. The rink's opening also coincides with a visit from Santa, who parks his sleigh at Southlands Town Square on Tuesdays–Sundays, starting November 17.
The Denver Outlaws joined Major League Lacrosse as an expansion team in 2006, immediately staking out their territory with a Western Conference title and a trip to the league championship. In the years since, they have never once missed the playoffs, even when something good was on TV. From their inception, the Outlaws have marauded the league record books, setting attendance records in their inaugural season and improving from there, with recent Fourth of July games drawing more than 30,000 fans to Sports Authority Field at Mile High. This year’s Independence Day game continues the tradition of fireworks exploding over the field and a wave of apple pie filling flooding the parking lot.
Denver Patio Ride's party bus moves through the River North arts district and downtown by way of pedaling—any willing pub-crawlers can power the party forward as the sober driver steers and brakes. After jump-starting at Billy’s Gourmet Hot Dogs on Larimer and Broadway, the bus cruises at a low-key 5 miles per hour, stopping at a smorgasbord of bars, many of which pour $5 specials of one shot and one beer. Guides infuse jaunts with historical tidbits, trivia, and prizes, while the solar-powered sound system’s iPod hookup allows pedalers to blast their personal collection of upbeat audio books. No weather other than rain or snow prevents tours, and the bus’s capacious storage space accommodates any party accessory except beer, which is not allowed on the bus. Revelers can rent out the whole bus for large parties, or buy seats on a weekly schedule of public pub-crawls.