After 17 years of hosting live events in Broomfield, CO, 1stBank Center is closing effective November 30th. City officials where the arena has been a financial drain for years state that the 6,500-capacity venue could be torn down as early as next spring.
Per The Colorado Sun, the Broomfield City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to close the arena, with city manager Jennifer Hoffman remarking, “It’s time we ripped the Band-Aid off.” Constructed in 2006 for $45 million and financed using $59.8 million in taxpayer bonds, the multi-purpose venue never broke even for the city. In recent years, as other areas of Broomfield have expanded, the city has had to dip into the pockets of other Urban Renewal Projects in order to keep 1stBank operating.
“We need to stop putting gas on the fire,” Councilmember Todd Cohen said of the constant struggle to keep the arena financially above water. The venue has run between $250,000 and $1 million in debt every year for the past five years, according to the city. If it were to remain open, it would require between $5 and $6 million in repairs including a new roof and updated HVAC system.
During its run, the 1stBank Center hosted semi-professional hockey and basketball teams as well as the city’s roller derby squad and concerts from Billy Strings, Dave Matthews Band, Widespread Panic, and many more. Still, the venue never approached the 180–190 annual events projected when the venture was proposed.
Peak Entertainment, a partnership of AEG Presents Rocky Mountains and Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, took over operations and management in 2009. In the competitive Denver live music marketplace, the venue struggled to stay consistently active. The biggest year for concerts at 1stBank was 2016 when the arena put on 33 shows. The next year that number dropped to 27, followed by 17 in 2018, then 13 in 2019, and five in 2020 partially due to the pandemic. When live music returned in 2021, it did little for business at 1stBank with only six events. This year, Peak has booked less than ten concerts and events at 1stBank, with only three upcoming shows in the next six months.
“If you have ever attended an event at Fillmore Auditorium, you will see what we are up against,” Cohen said in reference to the Live Nation-owned 3,700-capacity concert hall in nearby Denver.
During its run, 1stBank Center played host to some memorable concerts. In 2016, after a four-year breakup, Ween reunited at 1stBank Center for a two-night run. Four years later, Trey Anastasio, Les Claypool, and Stewart Copeland reactivated Oysterhead for a pair of shows at 1stBank in what was intended to be the kickoff of a reunion tour that was ultimately broken up by COVID. While it wasn’t their intended destination, 1stBank Center came in clutch for Joe Russo’s Almost Dead in April 2017 when dangerous weather conditions forced the Grateful Dead tribute act to nix its Red Rocks Amphitheatre debut and instead call an audible in Broomfield.
More recently, 1stBank has pivoted to hosting more EDM shows along with wrestling and MMA events. The EDM concerts point to another issue with 1stBank, which staffs its events with the city’s police and EMT workers. Since 2016, the city’s emergency services have fielded 738 medical calls to the arena, with 73% of those calls coming specifically from EDM shows. The last EDM concert at 1stBank, a two-night Excision run in February, resulted in “79 medical responses, eight indecent exposure citations, multiple drug-related arrests, and a number of neighborhood noise disturbance complaints,” per The Colorado Sun.
Though the arena is closing, the city still has about $34.2 million left to pay on the initial bond. By the time the Broomfield Urban Renewal Authority pays off the remaining tab in 2029, the project will have cost the city $135 million.