The University of Denver stadium (also known as “Hilltop Stadium”) was dedicated in 1926 and served as the home of the University of Denver football team from 1925 through 1961, when DU dropped football as a varsity sport. It also hosted track and field events, other colleges’ football games and even professional football games until its demolition in 1971.
By 1924 DU football needed a new home: the team had been playing at University Park since 1909 with a grandstand that could seat only 10,000. DU alumni decided to launch an ambitious public bond drive. DU broke ground for Hilltop Stadium in March of 1925.
The construction costs ran just under $751,000, with the project using one million board-feet of lumber, 7,000 cubic feet of concrete and 295 tons of steel. The community rallied around the new structure which earned the nickname “Monument to Concrete.” As a crowning touch, the famous sculptor Robert Garrison created two massive figures of athletes, one male and one female, to grace the Stadium’s main entrance as symbols of the value of coeducation and “the vitality, the vigor, and the strength of modern American youth”.
Hilltop Stadium witnessed a wide range of events during its history. Many of DU football’s most glorious victories came on its field. In the venue’s first official game, DU defeated Colorado School of Mines by a score of 27-7. However, no regional match-up overshadowed the annual rivalry game between DU and the University of Colorado (CU) at Thanksgiving. This tradition came to end when CU joined a different athletic conference in 1948. The Denver Broncos also played at Hilltop Stadium from time to time. The facility also hosted other sports during its history including soccer and track and field. The use of Hilltop Stadium extended beyond the realm of athletic competition as well. For example, Charles Lindbergh visited the Denver landmark during a parade held in his honor. Hilltop Stadium also hosted outdoor theater productions and DU commencement ceremonies for a number of years.
DU decided to demolish Hilltop Stadium in 1971. Although the large saddle-shaped section on the west side was removed, the far smaller section to the east remained for a while longer. The venue had started to crumble, and after the discontinuation of the DU football program in 1961, a costly reconstruction of the main grandstand seemed unwarranted. DU also needed the space for its growing intramural sports program: new plans included ten lighted tennis courts and three regulation-sized playing fields for a wide variety of sports. DU has maintained a tradition of changing the configuration of this space to fit the recreational needs of its students. Today, the Benjamin F. Stapleton, Jr. Tennis Pavilion and the varsity soccer field stand on the site of the old Hilltop Stadium.
Fisher, Steve. “The Short, Happy Life of Hilltop Stadium.” University of Denver
Magazine. Winter 2006. 3 Oct. 2008
Haraway, Frank O. “Football.” A Tribute to Champions. Ed. Erik Prenzler. Denver: Mile High Alumni Boosters, 1985. 8-10.
Moffett, Jessie. “Statues Will Be Placed in Niches by October 25, Sculptor Announces.” The Clarion 26 September 1926: 3.
“Say Goodbye to an Oldtimer….” Communiqué (DU Faculty and Staff Publication) 21 June 1971.