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 fan group. In their designated “Supporter’s Terrace”, fans lead raucous cheers, wave massive flags, and braid one-another's hair into beautiful scarves to inspire their side.
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).
Campus Cycles owners Mark Velat and Bobby Verenna grew up in the cycling world. Mark has been riding and racing for more than 30 years now, and Bobby broke into the retail end back in sixth grade. At their shop, patrons reap the rewards of their expertise when shopping from shelves of sturdy bikes and gear from brands such as Giant, Cannondale, and Electra, in addition to children's two-wheelers and tricycles. Their service department’s technicians recalibrate bikes with tune-ups, and fit specialists match individuals with the ideal cycle. Patrons can also visit on demo days when big-name manufacturers show off their latest products and let riders take them out for test-drives on nearby mountain trails or paved roads. Meanwhile, the store's Get to Know Your Bike classes give riders basic repair and maintenance skills so they can remedy minor damage incurred when tires pop on fiberglass banana peels littering the road.
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.
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.
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.